I mark’d them light, with faces bright
As pansies or a new coin’d florin,
And up the sunless stair take flight,
Close-pack’d as rabbits in a warren.
Honour the Brave, who in that stress
Still trod not upon Beauty’s dress!
Kerchief in hand I saw them stand;
In every kerchief lurk’d a lunch;
When they unfurl’d them, it was grand
To watch bronzed men and maidens crunch
The sounding celery-stick, or ram
The knife into the blushing ham.
Dash’d the bold fork through pies of pork;
O’er hard-boil’d eggs the saltspoon shook;
Leapt from its lair the playful cork:
Yet some there were, to whom the brook
Seem’d sweetest beverage, and for meat
They chose the red root of the beet.
Then many a song, some rather long,
Came quivering up from girlish throats;
And one young man he came out strong,
And gave “The Wolf” without his notes.
While they who knew not song or ballad
Still munch’d, approvingly, their salad.
But ah! what bard could sing how hard,
The artless banquet o’er, they ran
Down the soft slope with daisies starr’d
And kingcups! onward, maid with man,
They flew, to scale the breezy swing,
Or court frank kisses in the ring.
Such are the sylvan scenes that thrill
This heart! The lawns, the happy shade,
Where matrons, whom the sunbeams grill,
Stir with slow spoon their lemonade;
And maidens flirt (no extra charge)
In comfort at the fountain’s marge!
Others may praise the “grand displays”
Where “fiery arch,” “cascade,” and “comet,”
Set the whole garden in a “blaze”!
Far, at such times, may I be from it;
Though then the public may be “lost
In wonder” at a trifling cost.
Fann’d by the breeze, to puff at ease
My faithful pipe is all I crave:
And if folks rave about the “trees
Lit up by fireworks,” let them rave.
Your monster fetes, I like not these;
Though they bring grist to the lessees.
He stood, a worn-out City clerk —
Who’d toil’d, and seen no holiday,
For forty years from dawn to dark —
Alone beside Caermarthen Bay.
He felt the salt spray on his lips;
Heard children’s voices on the sands;
Up the sun’s path he saw the ships
Sail on and on to other lands;
And laugh’d aloud. Each sight and sound
To him was joy too deep for tears;
He sat him on the beach, and bound
A blue bandana round his ears:
And thought how, posted near his door,
His own green door on Camden Hill,
Two bands at least, most likely more,
Were mingling at their own sweet will
Verdi with Vance. And at the thought
He laugh’d again, and softly drew
That Morning Herald that he’d bought
Forth from his breast, and read it through.