Andrew Lang.

Ballades in blue China online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryAndrew LangBallades in blue China → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Ballades in Blue China



A BALLADE OF XXXII BALLADES.

Friend^ when y»u bear a care-dulled eyt^

ylnd brtiv perplexed with things of weighty
jind fain would bid some charm untie

The btnds that hold you all too straight^

Behold a solace to your fate^
fVrapped in this cover s china blue;

These ballades fresh and delicate^
This dainty troop of Thirty-two !

The mindy unwearied, longs to fly

yind commune with the wise and great/
But that same ether, rare and high.

Which glorifies its worthy mate.
To breath forspent is disparate :

Laughing and light and airy-new
These come to tickle the dull pate.

This dainty troop of Thirty-two.

Most welcome then, when you and 7,

Forestalling days for mirth too late.
To quips and cranks and fantasy

Some choice half-hour dedicate,
They weave their dunce with measured rate

Of rhymes enlinked in order due.
Till frowns relax and cares abate.

This dainty troop of Thirty-two.



ENVOY

Princes, of toys that please your state
Quainter are surely none to view

Than these which pass with tripping gait.
This dainty troop of Thirty-two.

F. P.



THE LARK CLASSICS



Ballades in Blue China



BY

ANDREW LANG




Godfrey A. S. Wieners

AT THE SIGN OF THE LARK
NEW YORK



UNIVERSITY PRESS • JOHN WILSON
AND SON • CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.



TO

AUSTIN DOBSON



" RontUaux, Ballades,

CJiansons dizains, promos menuSt

Compte tnoy qu' ils sont devenuz .*

Le/aict U plus rien de nouveau f "

Clement Marot, Dialog^a de deux

Amoureux.



" I love a ballad but even too well; if it be doleful matter, merrily set down, or a
very pleasant thing indeed, and sung lamentably."

A Winter's Tale, Act IV. sc. 3.



2050200



Preface

. . . As a writer of charming prose and equally dainty
verse, Andrew Lang is, perhaps, without a superior to-
day. Few writers, moreover, have been more prolific or
have ranged in a larger field, for to his credit must be
placed volumes of poetry, essays, biographies, transla-
tions, and folk stories. Born in Scotland in 1844, and
graduating at Oxford, for over twenty-five years he has
labored so diligently with his pen that few of his contem-
poraries are more deservedly popular, while none is more
prominent. While not a writer of any particular depth, his
books have all appealed to the discriminating public ; and
his carefully edited fairy stories (the Blue, the Red, the
Green, the Yellow, the Pink, the Grey, and the Violet
Fairy Books) have more than endeared him to that most
clear-visioned body of critics — the English speaking chil-
dren of two continents. Among the most popular of Mr.
Lang's works are the "Letters to Dead Authors " (1886),
"Essays in Little" (1891), his charming translation
of "Aucassin and Nicolete " (1887), and the following
collection of verses, printed originally in 1881. . . .



Contents

Page

Ballade to Theocritus, in Winter 3

Ballade of Cleopatra's Needle 5

" Roulette 7

" Sleep 9

" the Midnight Forest 12

" the Tweed 14

" the Book- Hunter 16

" the Voyage to Cythera 18

" the Summer Term 20

" the Muse 22

against the Jesuits 24

of Dead Cities 26

" the Royal Game of Golf 28

Double Ballade of Primitive Man ....... 30

Ballade of Autumn 33

" " True Wisdom 35

" " Worldly Wealth 37

" "Life 39

*' " Blue China 41

ix



Contents

Pagb

Ballade of Dead Ladies 43

Villon's Ballade 45

Ballade of Rabbits and Hares 47

Valentine in Form of Ballade 49

Ballade of Old Plays 51

'* His Books 53

" Esthetic Adjectives 55

" the Pleased Bard 57

for a Baby 59

Amoureuse 61

of Queen Anne 63

" Blind Love 65

*' His Choice of a Sepulchre 67

Dizain 69



VERSES AND TRANSLATIONS

A Portrait of 1783 73

The Moon's Minion 76

In Ithaca 78

Homer 79

The Burial of Moliere 80



Contents

Page

Bion 8i

spring 82

Before the Snow 83

Villanelle 84

The Mystery of Queen Persephone 86

Stoker Bill 91

Natural Theology 94

The Odyssey 95

Ideal 96



XI



BALLADES IN BLUE CHINA



BALLADE TO THEOCRITUS, IN WINTER

Id. VIII. 56.

AH ! leave the smoke, the wealth, the roar
Of London, and the bustling street,
For still, by the Sicilian shore,
The murmur of the Muse is sweet.
Still, still, the suns of summer greet
The mountain-grave of Helik^,
And shepherds still their songs repeat
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea.

What though they worship Pan no more.
That guarded once the shepherd's seat,
They chatter of their rustic lore,
Cicalas chirp, the young lambs bleat,
Where whispers pine to cypress tree ;
They count the waves that idly beat
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea !
3



Ballades in Blue China



Envoy

Master, — when rain, and snow, and sleet
And northern winds are wild, to thee
We come, we rest in thy retreat.
Where breaks the blue Sicilian sea !



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF CLEOPATRA'S NEEDLE

YE giant shades of Ra and Turn,
Ye ghosts of gods Egyptian,
If murmurs of our planet come
To exiles in the precincts wan
Where, fetish or Olympian,
To help or harm no more ye list,
Look down, if look ye may, and scan
This monument in London mist !

Behold, the hieroglyphs are dumb
That once were read of him that ran
When seistron, cymbal, trump, and drum
Wild music of the Bull began ;
When through the chanting priestly clan
Walk'd Ramses, and the high sun kiss'd
This stone, with blessing scored and ban —
This monument in London mist.
5



Ballades in Blue China

The stone endures though gods be numb ;
Though human effort, plot, and plan
Be sifted, drifted, like the sum
Of sands in wastes Arabian.
What king may deem him more than man,
What priest says Faith can Time resist
While this endures to mark their span —
This monument in London mist?

Envoy

Prince, the stone's shade on your divan
Falls; it is longer than ye wist:
It preaches, as Time's gnomon can,
This monument in London mist.



Ballades in Blue China

BALLADE OF ROULETTE
To R. R.

THIS life — one was thinking of to-day,
In the midst of a medley of fancies —
Is a game, and the board where we play
Green earth with her poppies and pansies.
Let inauqne be faded romances,
Be passe remorse and regret ;
Hearts dance with the wheel as it dances —
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette.

The lover will stake as he may
His heart on his Peggies and Nancies;
The girl has her beauty to lay ;
The saint has his prayers and his trances ;
The poet bets endless expanses
In Dreamland; the scamp has his debt:
How they gaze at the wheel as it glances —
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette !
7



Ballades in Blue China

The Kaiser will stake his array

Of sabres, of Krupps, and of lances ;

An Englishman punts with his pay,

And glory th^jeton of France is;

Your artists, or Whistlers or Vances,

Have voices or colours to bet ;

Will you moan that its motion askance is

The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette ?



Envoy

The prize that the pleasure enhances?
The prize is — at last to forget
The changes, the chops, and the chances
The wheel of Dame Fortune's roulette.



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF SLEEP

THE hours are passing slow,
I hear their weary tread
Clang from the tower, and go
Back to their kinsfolk dead.
Sleep ! death's twin brother dread !
Why dost thou scorn me so?
The wind's voice overhead
Long wakeful here I know,
And music from the steep
Where waters fall and flow.
Wilt thou not hear me, Sleep ?

All sounds that might bestow
Rest on the fever'd bed,
All slumb'rous sounds and low
9



Ballades in Blue China

Are mingled here and wed,
And bring no drowsihed.
Shy dreams flit to and fro
With shadowy hair dispread ;
With wistful eyes that glow,
And silent robes that sweep.
Thou wilt not hear me; no?
Wilt thou not hear me, Sleep?



What cause hast thou to show
Of sacrifice unsped?
Of all thy slaves below
I most have laboured
With service sung and said ;
Have cull'd such buds as blow,
Soft poppies white and red,
Where thy still gardens grow,
And Lethe's waters weep.
Why, then, art thou my foe ?
Wilt thou not hear me, Sleep ?

lO



Ballades in Blue China

Envoy

Prince, ere the dark be shred
By golden shafts, ere low
And long the shadows creep ;
Lord of the wand of lead,
Soft-footed as the snow,
Wilt thou not hear me, Sleep !



XI



Ballades in Blue China

BALLADE OF THE MIDNIGHT FOREST
(After Theodore de Banville)

STILL sing the mocking fairies, as of old,
Beneath the shade of thorn and holly-tree ;
The west wind breathes upon them, pure and cold.
And wolves still dread Diana roaming free
In secret woodland with her company.
T is thought the peasants' hovels know her rite
When now the wolds are bathed in silver hght,
And first the moonrise breaks the dusky grey,
Then down the dells, with blown soft hair and bright,
And through the dim wood Dian threads her way.

With water-weeds twined in their locks of gold

The strange cold forest-fairies dance in glee,

Sylphs over-timorous and over-bold

Haunt the dark hollows where the dwarf may be,

The wild red dwarf, the nixies' enemy ;

Then 'mid their mirth, and laughter, and affright,

12



Ballades in Blue China

The sudden Goddess enters, tall and white,
With one long sigh for summers pass'd away ;
The swift feet tear the ivy nets outright
And through the dim wood Dian threads her way.

She gleans her silvan trophies ; down the wold

She hears the sobbing of the stags that flee

Mixed with the music of the hunting roU'd,

But her delight is all in archery,

And naught of ruth and pity wotteth she

More than her hounds that follow on the flight ;

The goddess draws a golden bow of might

And thick she rains the gentle shafts that slay.

She tosses loose her locks upon the night.

And through the dim wood Dian threads her way.

Envoy

Prince, let us leave the din, the dust, the spite,
The gloom and glare of towns, the plague, the blight;
Amid the forest leaves and fountain spray
There is the mystic home of our delight,
And through the dim wood Dian threads her way.

13



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF THE TWEED
(Lowland Scotch)
To T. W. Lang

THE ferox rins in rough Loch Awe,
A weary cry frae ony toun ;
The Spey, that loups o'er linn and fa*,
They praise a' ither streams aboon ;
They boast their braes o' bonny Doon ;
Gie me to hear the ringing reel,
Where shilfas sing, and cushats croon
By fair Tweed-side, at Ashiesteel !

There 's Ettrick, Meggat, Ail, and a'.
Where trout swim thick in May and June;
Ye '11 see them take in showers o' snaw
Some blinking, cauldrife April moon :
Rax ower the palmer and march-broun,
14



Ballades in Blue China

And syne we '11 show a bonny creel,
In spring or simmer, late cr soon,
By fair Tweed-side, at Ashiesteel !

There 's mony a water, great or sma',

Gaes singing in his siller tune.

Through glen and heugh, and hope and shaw,

Beneath the sun-licht or the moon :

But set us in our fishlng-shoon

Between the Caddon-burn and Peel,

And syne we '11 cross the heather broun

By fair Tweed-side at Ashiesteel !

Envoy

Deil take the dirty, trading loon
Wad gar the water ca' his wheel.
And drift his dyes and poisons doun,
By fair Tweed-side at Ashiesteel !



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF THE BOOK-HUNTER

IN torrid heats of late July,
In March, beneath the bitter bise^
He book-hunts while the loungers fly, —
He book-hunts, though December freeze ;
In breeches baggy at the knees.
And heedless of the public jeers.
For these, for these he hoards his fees, —
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.'

No dismal stall escapes his eye,
He turns o'er tomes of low degrees,
There soiled romanticists may lie.
Or Restoration comedies ;
Each tract that flutters in the breeze
For him is charged with hopes and fears.
In mouldy novels fancy sees
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs.
i6



Ballades in Blue China

With restless eyes that peer and spy,

Sad eyes that heed not skies nor trees,

In dismal nooks he loves to pry,

Whose motto evermore is Spcs!

But ah ! the fabled treasure flees ;

Grown rarer with the fleeting years,

In rich men's shelves they take their ease, —

Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs !

Envoy

Prince, all the things that tease and please, —
Fame, hope, wealth, kisses, cheers, and tears,
What are they but such toys as these, —
Aldines, Bodonis, Elzevirs?



J7



Ballades in Blue China

BALLADE OF THE VOYAGE TO CYTHERA

(After Theodore de Banville)

I KNOW Cythera long is desolate ;
I know the winds have stripp'd the gardens green.
Alas, my friends ! beneath the fierce sun's weight
A barren reef lies where Love's flowers have been,
Nor ever lover on that coast is seen !
So be it, but we seek a fabled shore,
To lull our vague desires with mystic lore,
To wander where Love's labyrinths beguile ;
There let us land, there dream for evermore :
'' It may be we shall touch the happy isle."

The sea may be our sepulchre. If Fate,
If tempests wreak their wrath on us, serene
We watch the bolt of heaven, and scorn the hate
Of angry gods that smite us in their spleen.
Perchance the jealous mists are but the screen
That veils the fairy coast we would explore.

18



Ballades in Blue China

Come, though the sea be vex'd, and breakers roar,
Come, for the air of this old world is vile,
Haste we, and toil, and faint not at the oar;
" It may be we shall touch the happy isle."

Grey serpents trail in temples desecrate

Where Cypris smiled, the golden maid, the queen,

And ruined is the palace of our state;

And happy Loves flit round the mast, and keen

The shrill wind sings the silken cords between.

Heroes are we, with wearied hearts and sore,

Whose flower is faded and whose locks are hoar.

Yet haste, light skiffs, where myrtle thickets smile ;

Love's panthers sleep 'mid roses, as of yore;

" It may be we shall touch the happy isle ! "

Envoy

Sad eyes ! the blue sea laughs, as heretofore.
Ah, singing birds, your happy music pour !
Ah, poets, leave the sordid earth awhile ;
Flit to these ancient gods we still adore :
" It may be we shall touch the happy isle ! "

19



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF THE SUMMER TERM

{Being a petition, in the form of a Ballade, praying the Uni-
versity Commissioners to spare the Summer Term)

WHEN Lent and Responsions are ended,
When May wi'th fritillaries waits,
When the flower of the chestnut is splendid,
When drags are at all of the gates
(Those drags the philosopher " slates "
With a scorn that is truly sublime),*
Life wins from the grasp of the Fates
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time !

When wickets are bowl'd and defended,
When Isis is glad with " the Eights,"
When music and sunset are blended,

* Cf. " Suggestions for Academic Reorganization."
20



Ballades in Blue China

When Youth and the summer are mates,
When Freshmen are heedless of " Greats,"
And when note-books are cover'd with rhyme,
Ah, these are the hours that one rates —
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time !

When the brow of the Dean is unbended
At luncheons and mild tete-a-tetes,
When the Tutor 's in love, nor offended
By blunders in tenses or dates ;
When bouquets are purchased of Bates,
When the bells in their melody chime,
When unheeded the Lecturer prates —
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time !

Envoy

Reformers of Schools and of States,
Is mirth so tremendous a crime?
Ah ! spare what grim pedantry hates —
Sweet hours and the fleetest of time !



21



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF THE MUSE
Quern tu, Melpomene, semel.

THE man whom once, Melpomene,
Thou look'st on with benignant sight,
Shall never at the Isthmus be
A boxer eminent in fight,
Nor fares he foremost in the flight
Of Grecian cars to victory,
Nor goes with Delian laurels dight,
The man thou lov'st, Melpomene !

Not him the Capitol shall see,

As who hath crush'd the threats and might

Of monarchs, march triumphantly ;

But Fame shall crown him, in his right

22



Ballades in Blue China

Of all the Roman lyre that smite
The first; so woods of Tivoli
Proclaim him, so her waters bright,
The man thou lov'st, Melpomene !

The sons of queenly Rome count niCy

Me too, with them whose chants delight, —

The poets* kindly company ;

Now broken is the tooth of spite,

But thou, that temperest aright

The golden lyre, all, all to thee

He owes — life, fame, and fortune's height -

The man thou lov'st, Melpomene !



Envoy

Queen, that to mute lips could'st unite
The wild swan's dying melody !
Thy gifts, ah ! how shall he requite —
The man thou lov'st, Melpomene?



23



Ballades in Blue China

BALLADE AGAINST THE JESUITS

(After La Fontaine)

ROME does right well to censure all the vain
Talk of Jansenius, and of them who- preach
That earthly joys are damnable ! Tis plain
We need not charge at Heaven as at a breach ;
No, amble on ! We '11 gain it, one and all ;
The narrow path 's a dream fantastical,
And Arnauld 's quite superfluously driven
Mirth from the world. We '11 scale the heavenly wall,
Escobar makes a primrose path to heaven !

He does not hold a man may well be slain
Who vexes with unseasonable speech.
You may do murder for five ducats gain.
Not for a pin, a ribbon, or a peach ;
He ventures (most consistently) to teach
That there are certain cases that befall

24



Ballades in Blue China

When perjury need no good man appal.
And life of love (he says) may keep a leaven.
Sure, hearing this, a grateful world will bawl,
" Escobar makes a primrose path to heaven ! "

" For God's sake read me somewhat in the strain
Of his most cheering volumes, I beseech! "
Why should I name them all? a mighty train —
So many, none may know the name of each.
Make these your compass to the heavenly beach,
These only in your library instal :
Burn Pascal and his fellows, great and small,
Dolts that in vain with Escobar have striven ;
I tell you, and the common voice doth call,
Escobar makes a primrose path to heaven !

Envoy

Satan^ that pride did hurry to thy fall,
Thou porter of the grim infernal hall —
Thou keeper of the courts of souls unshriveni
To shun thy shafts, to 'scape thy hellish thrall,
Escobar makes a primrose path to heaven !

25



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF DEAD CITIES
To E. W. GossE

THE dust of Carthage and the dust
Of Babel on the desert wold,
The loves of Corinth, and the lust,
Orchomenos increased with gold ;
The town of Jason, over-bold,
And Cherson, smitten in her prime —
What are they but a dream half-told ?
Where are the cities of old time?

In towns that were a kingdom's trust,
In dim Atlantic forests' fold,
The marble wasteth to a crust.
The granite crumbles into mould ;
26



Ballades in Blue China

O'er these — left nameless from of old —
As over Shinar's brick and slime,
One vast forgetfulness is roU'd —
Where are the cities of old time?

The lapse of ages, and the rust,

The fire, the frost, the waters cold,

Efface the evil and the just;

From Thebes, that Eriphyle sold,

To drovvn'd Caer-Is, whose sweet bells toll'd

Beneath the wave a dreamy chime

That echo'd from the mountain-hold, —

" Where are the cities of old time?"

Envoy

Prince, all thy towns and cities must
Decay as these, till all their crime,
And mirth, and wealth, and toil are thrust
Where are the cities of old time.



27



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF THE ROYAL GAME OF GOLF

(East Fifeshire)

TPIERE are laddies will drive ye a ba*
To the burn frae the farthermost tee,
But ye mauna think driving is a.\
Ye may heel her, and send her ajee,
Ye may land in the sand or the sea;
And ye *re dune, sir, ye 're no worth a preen,
Tak' the word that an auld man '11 gie,
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green !

The auld folk are crouse, and they craw
That their putting is pawky and slee ;
In a bunker they 're nae gude ava',
But to girn, and to gar the sand flee.
28



Ballades in Blue China

And a lassie can putt — ony she, —
Be Maggy, or Bessie, or Jean,
But a cleek-shot's the billy for me,
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green !

I hae played in the frost and the thaw,
I hae played since the year thirty-three,
I hae played in the rain and the snaw.
And I trust I may play till I dee ;
And I tell ye the truth and nae lee,
For I speak o' the thing I hae seen —
Tom Morris, I ken, will agree —
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green !

Envoy

Prince, faith you 're improving a wee.
And, Lord, man, they tell me you 're keen;
Tak' the best o' advice that can be,
Tak' aye tent to be up on the green !



29



Ballades in Blue China



DOUBLE BALLADE OF PRIMITIVE MAN
To J. A. Farrer

HE lived in a cave by the seas,
He lived upon oysters and foes,
But his list of forbidden degrees,
An extensive morality shows ;
Geological evidence goes
To prove he had never a pan,
But he shaved with a shell when he chose, —
Twas the manner of Primitive Man.

He worshipp'd the rain and the breeze,
He worshipp'd the riVer that flows,
And the Dawn, and the Moon, and the trees,
And bogies, and serpents, and crows;
30



Ballades in Blue China

He buried his dead with their toes
Tucked-up, an original plan,
Till their knees came right under their nose, -
'Twas the manner of Primitive Man.

His communal wives, at his ease,
He would curb with occasional blows;
Or his State had a queen, like the bees
(As another philosopher trows) :
When he spoke, it was never in prose,
But he sang in a strain that would scan,
For (to doubt it, perchance, were morose)
'T was the manner of Primitive Man !

On the coasts that incessantly freeze,
With his stones, and his bones, and his bows ;
On luxuriant tropical leas.
Where the summer eternally glows,
He is found, and his habits disclose
(Let theology say what she can)
That he lived in the long, long agos,
'T was the manner of Primitive Man !
31



Ballades in Blue China

From a status like that of the Crees,

Our society's fabric arose, —

Develop'd, evolved, if you please,

But deluded chronologists chose,

In a fancied accordance with Mos

es, 4000 B.C. for the span

When he rushed on the world and its woes,-

'Twas the manner of Primitive Man!

But the mild anthropologist, — he 's

Not recent inclined to suppose

Flints Palaeolithic like these !

In Rhinoceros, Mammoth and Co.'s,

First epoch, the Human began,

Theologians all to expose, —

'T is the mission of Primitive Man.

Envoy
Max, proudly your Aryans pose.
But their rigs they undoubtedly ran
For, as every Darwinian knows,
'T was the manner of Primitive Man !
32



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF AUTUMN

WE built a castle in the air,
In summer weather you and I,
The wind and sun were in your hair, —
Gold hair against a sapphire sky :
When Autumn came, with leaves that fly
Before the storm, across the plain,
You fled from me, with scarce a sigh —
My Love returns no more again !

The windy lights of Autumn flare :
I watch the moonlit sails go by ;
I marvel how men toil and fare,
The weary business that they ply !
Their voyaging is vanity,
And fairy gold is all their gain,
And all the winds of winter cry,
" My Love returns no more again ! "
3 33



Ballades in Blue China

Here, in my castle of Despair,
I sit alone with memory ;
The wind-fed wolf has left his lair,
To keep the outcast company.
The brooding owl he hoots hard by,
The hare shall kindle o?i thy hearth-stane^
The Rhymer's soothest prophecy, — *
My Love returns no more again !

Envoy

Lady, my home until I die

Is here, where youth and hope were slain ;

They flit, the ghosts of our July,

My Love returns no more again !

* Thomas of Ercildoune.



34



Ballades in Blue China



BALLADE OF TRUE VVISDOr^I

WHILE others are asking for beauty or fame,
Or praying to know that for which they should
pray,
Or courting Queen Venus, that affable dame.
Or chasing the Muses the weary and grey,
The sage has found out a more excellent way —
To Pan and to Pallas his incense he showers.
And his humble petition puts up day by day,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.

Inventors may bow to the God that is lame.
And crave from the fire on his stithy a ray ;
Philosophers kneel to the God without name.
Like the people of Athens, agnostics are they ;
The hunter a fawn to Diana will slay.
The maiden wild roses will wreathe for the Hours ;
But the wise man will ask, ere libation he pay,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.

35



Ballades in Blue China

Oh ! grant me a life without pleasure or blame
(As mortals count pleasure who rush through their day
With a speed to which that of the tempest is tame) !
Oh ! grant me a house by the beach of a bay,
Where the waves can be surly in winter, and play


1

Online LibraryAndrew LangBallades in blue China → online text (page 1 of 2)