In the Gloaming to be roaming, where the crested waves
And the shy mermaidens combing locks that ripple to their feet;
When the Gloaming is, I never made the ghost of an endeavour
To discover—but whatever were the hour, it would be sweet.
“To their feet,” I say, for Leech’s
sketch indisputably teaches
That the mermaids of our beaches do not end in ugly tails,
Nor have homes among the corals; but are shod with neat balmorals,
An arrangement no one quarrels with, as many might with scales.
Sweet to roam beneath a shady cliff, of course with
some young lady,
Lalage, Neaera, Haidee, or Elaine, or Mary Ann:
Love, you dear delusive dream, you! Very sweet your victims deem
When, heard only by the seamew, they talk all the stuff one can.
Sweet to haste, a licensed lover, to Miss Pinkerton
Having managed to discover what is dear Neaera’s “size”:
P’raps to touch that wrist so slender, as your tiny gift you tender,
And to read you’re no offender, in those laughing hazel eyes.
Then to hear her call you “Harry,” when
she makes you fetch and
O young men about to marry, what a blessed thing it is!
To be photograph’d—together—cased in pretty Russia leather —
Hear her gravely doubting whether they have spoilt your honest
Then to bring your plighted fair one first a ring—a
rich and rare
Next a bracelet, if she’ll wear one, and a heap of things beside;
And serenely bending o’er her, to inquire if it would bore her
To say when her own adorer may aspire to call her bride!
Then, the days of courtship over, with your wife
to start for Dover
Or Dieppe—and live in clover evermore, whate’er befalls:
For I’ve read in many a novel that, unless they’ve souls that
Folks prefer in fact a hovel to your dreary marble halls:
To sit, happy married lovers; Phillis trifling with
Egg, while Corydon uncovers with a grace the Sally Lunn,
Or dissects the lucky pheasant—that, I think, were passing
As I sit alone at present, dreaming darkly of a Dun.
They come, they come, with fife and drum,
And gleaming pikes and glancing banners:
Though the eyes flash, the lips are dumb;
To talk in rank would not be manners.
Onward they stride, as Britons can;
The ladies following in the Van.
Who, who be these that tramp in threes
Through sumptuous Piccadilly, through
The roaring Strand, and stand at ease
At last ’neath shadowy Waterloo?
Some gallant Guild, I ween, are they;
Taking their annual holiday.
To catch the destin’d train—to pay
Their willing fares, and plunge within it —
Is, as in old Romaunt they say,
With them the work of half-a-minute.
Then off they’re whirl’d, with songs and shouting,
To cedared Sydenham for their outing.