Burton Egbert Stevenson.

The Home Book of Verse — Volume 4 online

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I know that Folly's breath is weak
And would not stir a feather;
But yet I would not have her speak
Your name and mine together.

Oh no! this life is dark and bright,
Half rapture and half sorrow;
My heart is very full to-night,
My cup shall be to-morrow!
But they shall never know from me,
On any one condition,
Whose health made bright my Burgundy,
Whose beauty was my vision!

Winthrop Mackworth Praed [1802-1839]


Some years ago, ere Time and Taste
Had turned our parish topsy-turvy,
When Darnel Park was Darnel Waste,
And roads as little known as scurvy,
The man who lost his way between
St. Mary's Hill and Sandy Thicket,
Was always shown across the Green,
And guided to the Parson's wicket.

Back flew the bolt of lissom lath;
Fair Margaret, in her tidy kirtle,
Led the lorn traveller up the path
Through clean-clipt rows of box and myrtle;
And Don and Sancho, Tramp and Tray,
Upon the parlor steps collected,
Wagged all their tails, and seemed to say,
"Our master knows you; you're expected!"

Up rose the Reverend Doctor Brown,
Up rose the Doctor's "winsome marrow";
The lady laid her knitting down,
Her husband clasped his ponderous Barrow;
Whate'er the stranger's caste or creed,
Pundit or papist, saint or sinner,
He found a stable for his steed,
And welcome for himself, and dinner.

If, when he reached his journey's end,
And warmed himself in court or college,
He had not gained an honest friend,
And twenty curious scraps of knowledge; -
If he departed as he came,
With no new light on love or liquor, -
Good sooth, the traveller was to blame,
And not the Vicarage, nor the Vicar.

His talk was like a stream which runs
With rapid change from rocks to roses;
It slipped from politics to puns;
It passed from Mahomet to Moses;
Beginning with the laws which keep
The planets in their radiant courses,
And ending with some precept deep
For dressing eels or shoeing horses.

He was a shrewd and sound divine,
Of loud Dissent the mortal terror;
And when, by dint of page and line,
He 'stablished Truth, or startled Error,
The Baptist found him far too deep,
The Deist sighed with saving sorrow,
And the lean Levite went to sleep
And dreamed of tasting pork to-morrow.

His sermon never said or showed
That Earth is foul, that Heaven is gracious,
Without refreshment on the road
From Jerome, or from Athanasius;
And sure a righteous zeal inspired
The hand and head that penned and planned them,
For all who understood, admired,
And some who did not understand them.

He wrote, too, in a quiet way,
Small treatises, and smaller verses,
And sage remarks on chalk and clay,
And hints to noble lords and nurses;
True histories of last year's ghost;
Lines to a ringlet or a turban;
And trifles to the Morning Post,
And nothings for Sylvanus Urban.

He did not think all mischief fair,
Although he had a knack of joking;
He did not make himself a bear,
Although he had a taste for smoking;
And when religious sects ran mad,
He held, in spite of all his learning,
That if a man's belief is bad,
It will not be improved by burning.

And he was kind, and loved to sit
In the low hut or garnished cottage,
And praise the farmer's homely wit,
And share the widow's homelier pottage.
At his approach complaint grew mild,
And when his hand unbarred the shutter,
The clammy lips of Fever smiled
The welcome which they could not utter.

He always had a tale for me
Of Julius Caesar or of Venus;
From him I learned the rule of three,
Cat's-cradle, leap-frog, and Quae genus.
I used to singe his powdered wig,
To steal the staff he put such trust in,
And make the puppy dance a jig
When he began to quote Augustine.

Alack, the change! In vain I look
For haunts in which my boyhood trifled;
The level lawn, the trickling brook,
The trees I climbed, the beds I rifled.
The church is larger than before,
You reach it by a carriage entry:
It holds three hundred people more,
And pews are fitted up for gentry.

Sit in the Vicar's seat; you'll hear
The doctrine of a gentle Johnian,
Whose hand is white, whose voice is clear,
Whose phrase is very Ciceronian.
Where is the old man laid? Look down,
And construe on the slab before you:
"Hic jacet Gulielmus Brown,
Vir nulla non donandus lauru."

Winthrop Mackworth Praed [1802-1839]


Years, years ago, ere yet my dreams
Had been of being wise or witty;
Ere I had done with writing themes,
Or yawned o'er this infernal Chitty; -
Years, years ago, while all my joy
Were in my fowling-piece and filly;
In short, while I was yet a boy,
I fell in love with Laura Lilly.

I saw her at the County Ball;
There, when the sounds of flute and fiddle
Gave signal sweet in that old hall
Of hands across and down the middle,
Hers was the subtlest spell by far
Of all that sets young hearts romancing:
She was our queen, our rose, our star;
And then she danced, - oh, heaven, her dancing!

Dark was her hair, her hand was white;
Her voice was exquisitely tender;
Her eyes were full of liquid light;
I never saw a waist so slender;
Her every look, her every smile,
Shot right and left a score of arrows;
I thought 'twas Venus from her isle,
And wondered where she'd left her sparrows.

She talked of politics or prayers, -
Of Southey's prose, or Wordsworth's sonnets,
Of danglers or of dancing bears,
Of battles, or the last new bonnets;
By candle-light, at twelve o'clock,
To me it mattered not a tittle,
If those bright lips had quoted Locke,
I might have thought they murmured Little.

Through sunny May, through sultry June,
I loved her with a love eternal;
I spoke her praises to the moon,
I wrote them to the Sunday Journal.
My mother laughed; I soon found out
That ancient ladies have no feeling:
My father frowned; but how should gout
See any happiness in kneeling?

She was the daughter of a dean,
Rich, fat, and rather apoplectic;
She had one brother just thirteen,
Whose color was extremely hectic;
Her grandmother, for many a year,
Had fed the parish with her bounty;
Her second cousin was a peer,
And lord-lieutenant of the county.

But titles and the three-per-cents,
And mortgages, and great relations,
And India bonds, and tithes and rents,
Oh, what are they to love's sensations?
Black eyes, fair forehead, clustering locks, -
Such wealth, such honors, Cupid chooses;
He cares as little for the stocks,
As Baron Rothschild for the Muses.

She sketched; the vale, the wood, the beach,
Grew lovelier from her pencil's shading;
She botanized; I envied each
Young blossom in her boudoir fading:
She warbled Handel; it was grand, -
She made the Catilina jealous;
She touched the organ; I could stand
For hours and hours to blow the bellows.

She kept an album, too, at home,
Well filled with all an album's glories;
Paintings of butterflies and Rome,
Patterns for trimmings, Persian stories,
Soft songs to Julia's cockatoo,
Fierce odes to famine and to slaughter,
And autographs of Prince Leboo,
And recipes for elder-water.

And she was flattered, worshipped, bored;
Her steps were watched, her dress was noted;
Her poodle-dog was quite adored;
Her sayings were extremely quoted.
She laughed, and every heart was glad,
As if the taxes were abolished;
She frowned, and every took was sad,
As if the opera were demolished.

She smiled on many just for fun, -
I knew that there was nothing in it;
I was the first, the only one
Her heart had thought of for a minute.
I knew it, for she told me so,
In phrase which was divinely moulded;
She wrote a charming hand, and oh,
How sweetly all her notes were folded!

Our love was like most other loves, -
A little glow, a little shiver,
A rosebud and a pair of gloves,
And "Fly Not Yet," upon the river;
Some jealousy of some one's heir,
Some hopes of dying broken-hearted;
A miniature, a lock of hair,
The usual vows, - and then we parted.

We parted: months and years rolled by;
We met again four summers after.
Our parting was all sob and sigh, -
Our meeting was all mirth and laughter;
For, in my heart's most secret cell,
There had been many other lodgers;
And she was not the ball-room's belle,
But only Mrs. - Something - Rogers.

Winthrop Mackworth Praed [1802-1839]


I'll sing you a good old song,
Made by a good old pate,
Of a fine old English gentleman
Who had an old estate,
And who kept up his old mansion
At a bountiful old rate;
With a good old porter to relieve
The old poor at his gate,
Like a fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

His hall so old was hung around
With pikes and guns and bows,
And swords, and good old bucklers,
That had stood some tough old blows;
'Twas there "his worship" held his state
In doublet and trunk hose,
And quaffed his cup of good old sack,
To warm his good old nose,
Like a fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

When winter's cold brought frost and snow,
He opened house to all;
And though threescore and ten his years,
He featly led the ball;
Nor was the houseless wanderer
E'er driven from his hall;
For while he feasted all the great,
He ne'er forgot the small;
Like a fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

But time, though old, is strong in flight,
And years rolled swiftly by;
And Autumn's falling leaves proclaimed
This good old man must die!
He laid him down right tranquilly,
Gave up life's latest sigh;
And mournful stillness reigned around,
And tears bedewed each eye,
For this fine old English gentleman
All of the olden time.

Now surely this is better far
Than all the new parade
Of theaters and fancy balls,
"At home" and masquerade:
And much more economical,
For all his bills were paid,
Then leave your new vagaries quite,
And take up the old trade
Of a fine old English gentleman,
All of the olden time.



A Little Saint best fits a little Shrine,
A little Prop best fits a little Vine,
As my small Cruse best fits my little Wine.

A little Seed best fits a little Soil,
A little Trade best fits a little Toil,
As my small Jar best fits my little Oil.

A little Bin best fits a little Bread,
A little Garland fits a little Head,
As my small Stuff best fits my little Shed.

A little Hearth best fits a little Fire,
A little Chapel fits a little Quire,
As my small Bell best fits my little Spire.

A little Stream best fits a little Boat,
A little Lead best fits a little Float,
As my small Pipe best fits my little Note.

A little Meat best fits a little Belly,
As sweetly, lady, give me leave to tell ye,
This little Pipkin fits this little Jelly.

Robert Herrick [1591-1674]


Fair cousin mine! the golden days
Of old romance are over;
And minstrels now care naught for bays,
Nor damsels for a lover;
And hearts are cold, and lips are mute
That kindled once with passion,
And now we've neither lance nor lute,
And tilting's out of fashion.

Yet weeping Beauty mourns the time
When Love found words in flowers;
When softest test sighs were breathed in rhyme,
And sweetest songs in bowers;
Now wedlock is a sober thing -
No more of chains or forges! -
A plain young man - a plain gold ring -
The curate - and St. George's.

Then every cross-bow had a string,
And every heart a fetter;
And making love was quite the thing,
And making verses better;
And maiden-aunts were never seen,
And gallant beaux were plenty;
And lasses married at sixteen,
And died at one-and-twenty.

Then hawking was a noble sport,
And chess a pretty science;
And huntsmen learned to blow a morte,
And heralds a defiance;
And knights and spearmen showed their might,
And timid hinds took warning;
And hypocras was warmed at night,
And coursers in the morning.

Then plumes and pennons were prepared,
And patron-saints were lauded;
And noble deeds were bravely dared,
And noble dames applauded;
And Beauty played the leech's part,
And wounds were healed with syrup;
And warriors sometimes lost a heart,
But never lost a stirrup.

Then there was no such thing as Fear,
And no such word as Reason;
And Faith was like a pointed spear,
And Fickleness was treason;
And hearts were soft, though blows were hard;
But when the fight was over,
A brimming goblet cheered the board,
His Lady's smile the lover.

Ay, those were golden days! The moon
Had then her true adorers;
And there were lyres and lutes in tune,
And no such thing as snorers;
And lovers swam, and held at naught
Streams broader than the Mersey;
And fifty thousand would have fought
For a smile from Lady Jersey.

Then people wore an iron vest,
And bad no use for tailors;
And the artizans who lived the best
Were armorers and nailers;
And steel was measured by the ell
And trousers lined with leather;
And jesters wore a cap and bell,
And knights a cap and feather.

Then single folks might live at ease,
And married ones might sever;
Uncommon doctors had their fees,
But Doctor's Commons never;
O! had we in those times been bred,
Fair cousin, for thy glances,
Instead of breaking Priscian's head,
I had been breaking lances!

Edward Fitzgerald [1809-1883]


A street there is in Paris famous,
For which no rhyme our language yields,
Rue Neuve des Petits Champs its name is -
The New Street of the Little Fields;
And there's an inn, not rich and splendid,
But still in comfortable case -
The which in youth I oft attended,
To eat a bowl of Bouillabaisse.

This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is -
A sort of soup, or broth, or brew,
Or hotchpotch of all sorts of fishes,
That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffern,
Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace:
All these you eat at Terre's tavern,
In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.

Indeed, a rich and savory stew 'tis;
And true philosophers, methinks,
Who love all sorts of natural beauties,
Should love good victuals and good drinks.
And Cordelier or Benedictine
Might gladly, sure, his lot embrace,
Nor find a fast-day too afflicting,
Which served him up a Bouillabaisse.

I wonder if the house still there is?
Yes, here the lamp is as before;
The smiling, red-cheeked ecaillere is
Still opening oysters at the door.
Is Terre still alive and able?
I recollect his droll grimace;
He'd come and smile before your table
And hope you liked your Bouillabaisse.

We enter; nothing's changed or older.
"How's Monsieur Terre, waiter, pray?"
The waiter stares and shrugs his shoulder; -
"Monsieur is dead this many a day."
"It is the lot of saint and sinner.
So honest Terre's run his race!"
"What will Monsieur require for dinner?"
"Say, do you still cook Bouillabaisse?"

"Oh, oui, Monsieur," 's the waiter's answer;
"Quel vin Monsieur desire-t-il?"
"Tell me a good one." "That I can, Sir;
The Chambertin with yellow seal."
"So Terre's gone," I say, and sink in
My old accustomed corner-place;
"He's done with feasting and with drinking,
With Burgundy and Bouillabaisse."

My old accustomed corner here is, -
The table still is in the nook;
Ah! vanished many a busy year is,
This well-known chair since last I took,
When first I saw ye, cari luoghi,
I'd scarce a beard upon my face,
And now a grizzled, grim old fogy,
I sit and wait for Bouillabaisse.

Where are you, old companions trusty
Of early days here met to dine?
Come, waiter! quick, a flagon crusty -
I'll pledge them in the good old wine.
The kind old voices and old faces
My memory can quick retrace;
Around the board they take their places,
And share the wine and Bouillabaisse.

There's Jack has made a wondrous marriage;
There's laughing Tom is laughing yet;
There's brave Augustus drives his carriage;
There's poor old Fred in the Gazette;
On James's head the grass is growing:
Good Lord! the world has wagged apace
Since here we set the Claret flowing,
And drank, and ate the Bouillabaisse.

Ah me! how quick the days are flitting!
I mind me of a time that's gone,
When here I'd sit, as now I'm sitting,
In this same place - but not alone.
A fair young form was nestled near me,
A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to cheer me.
- There's no one now to share my cup....

I drink it as the Fates ordain it.
Come, fill it, and have done with rhymes;
Fill up the lonely glass, and drain it
In memory of dear old times.
Welcome the wine, whate'er the seal is;
And sit you down and say your grace
With thankful heart, whate'er the meal is.
- Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse!

William Makepeace Thackeray [1811-1863]

Suggested By A Picture By Mr. Romney

Under the elm a rustic seat
Was merriest Susan's pet retreat
To merry-make

This Relative of mine
Was she seventy-and-nine
When she died?
By the canvas may be seen
How she looked at seventeen,
As a Bride.

Beneath a summer tree
Her maiden reverie
Has a charm;
Her ringlets are in taste;
What an arm! and what a waist
For an arm!

With her bridal-wreath, bouquet,
Lace farthingale, and gay
Falbala, -
If Romney's touch be true,
What a lucky dog were you,

Her lips are sweet as love;
They are parting! Do they move?
Are they dumb?
Her eyes are blue, and beam
Beseechingly, and seem
To say, "Come!"

What funny fancy slips
From atween these cherry lips?
Whisper me,
Fair Sorceress in paint,
What canon says I mayn't
Marry thee?

That good-for-nothing Time
Has a confidence sublime!
When I first
Saw this Lady, in my youth,
Her winters had, forsooth,
Done their worst.

Her locks, as white as snow,
Once shamed the swarthy crow;
That fowl's avenging sprite
Set his cruel foot for spite
Near her eye.

Her rounded form was lean,
And her silk was bombazine:
Well I wot
With her needles would she sit,
And for hours would she knit. -
Would she not?

Ah perishable clay!
Her charms had dropped away
One by one:
But if she heaved a sigh
With a burden, it was, "Thy
Will be done."

In travail, as in tears,
With the fardel of her years
In mercy she was borne
Where the weary and the worn
Are at rest.

Oh, if you now are there,
And sweet as once you were,
This nether world agrees
You'll all the better please

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]


She has dancing eyes and ruby lips,
Delightful boots - and away she skips

They nearly strike me dumb, -
I tremble when they come
This palpitation means
These Boots are Geraldine's -
Think of that!

O, where did hunter win
So delicate a skin
For her feet?
You lucky little kid,
You perished, so you did,
For my Sweet.

The fairy stitching gleams
On the sides, and in the seams,
And reveals
That the Pixies were the wags
Who tipped these funny tags,
And these heels.

What soles to charm an elf! -
Had Crusoe, sick of self,
Chanced to view
One printed near the tide,
O, how hard he would have tried
For the two!

For Gerry's debonair,
And innocent and fair
As a rose;
She's an Angel in a frock, -
She's an Angel with a clock
To her hose!

The simpletons who squeeze
Their pretty toes to please
Would positively flinch
From venturing to pinch

Cinderella's lefts and rights
To Geraldine's were frights:
And I trow
The Damsel, deftly shod,
Has dutifully trod
Until now.

Come, Gerry, since it suits
Such a pretty Puss (in Boots)
These to don,
Set your dainty hand awhile
On my shoulder, Dear, and I'll
Put them on.

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]

Geraldine And I

Dite, Damasippe, deaeque
Verum ob consilium donent tonsore.

We have loitered and laughed in the flowery croft,
We have met under wintry skies;
Her voice is the dearest voice, and soft
Is the light in her wistful eyes;
It is bliss in the silent woods, among
Gay crowds, or in any place,
To mould her mind, to gaze in her young
Confiding face.

For ever may roses divinely blow,
And wine-dark pansies charm
By that prim box path where I felt the glow
Of her dimpled, trusting arm,
And the sweep of her silk as she turned and smiled
A smile as pure as her pearls;
The breeze was in love with the darling Child,
And coaxed her curls.

She showed me her ferns and woodbine sprays,
Foxglove and jasmine stars,
A mist of blue in the beds, a blaze
Of red in the celadon jars:
And velvety bees in convolvulus bells,
And roses of bountiful Spring.
But I said - "Though roses and bees have spells,
They have thorn, and sting."

She showed me ripe peaches behind a net
As fine as her veil, and fat
Goldfish a-gape, who lazily met
For her crumbs - I grudged them that!
A squirrel, some rabbits with long lop ears,
And guinea-pigs, tortoise-shell - wee;
And I told her that eloquent truth inheres
In all we see.

I lifted her doe by its lops, quoth I,
"Even here deep meaning lies, -
Why have squirrels these ample tails, and why
Have rabbits these prominent eyes?"
She smiled and said, as she twirled her veil,
"For some nice little cause, no doubt -
If you lift a guinea-pig up by the tail
His eyes drop out!"

Frederick Locker Lampson [1821-1895]


Heigh-ho! they're wed. The cards are dealt,
Our frolic games are o'er;
I've laughed, and fooled, and loved. I've felt -
As I shall feel no more!
Yon little thatch is where she lives,
Yon spire is where she met me; -
I think that if she quite forgives,
She cannot quite forget me.

Last year I trod these fields with Di, -
Fields fresh with clover and with rye;
They now seem arid:
Then Di was fair and single; how
Unfair it seems on me, for now
Di's fair, - and married!

A blissful swain, - I scorned the song
Which tells us though young Love is strong,
The Fates are stronger:
Then breezes blew a boon to men,
Then buttercups were bright, and then
The grass was longer.

That day I saw, and much esteemed,
Di's ankles, that the clover seemed
Inclined to smother:
It twitched, and soon untied (for fun)
The ribbons of her shoes, first one,
And then the other.

I'm told that virgins augur some
Misfortune if their shoe-strings come
To grief on Friday:
And so did Di, - and then her pride
Decreed that shoe-strings so untied,
Are "so untidy!"

Of course I knelt; with fingers deft
I tied the right, and tied the left:
Says Di, "This stubble
Is very stupid! - as I live
I'm quite ashamed! - I'm shocked to give
You so much trouble!"

For answer I was fain to sink
To what we all would say and think
Were Beauty present:
"Don't mention such a simple act -
A trouble? not the least! In fact
It's rather pleasant!"

I trust that Love will never tease
Poor little Di, or prove that he's
A graceless rover.
She's happy now as Mrs. Smith -
But less polite when walking with
Her chosen lover!

Heigh-ho! Although no moral clings
To Di's blue eyes, and sandal strings,
We had our quarrels.
I think that Smith is thought an ass, -
I know that when they walk in grass
She wears balmorals.

Frederick Locker-Lampson [1821-1895]


The characters of great and small
Come ready made, we can't bespeak one;
Their sides are many, too, and all
(Except ourselves) have got a weak one.
Some sanguine people love for life,
Some love their hobby till it flings them.
How many love a pretty wife
For love of the eclat she brings them!...

A little to relieve my mind
I've thrown off this disjointed chatter,
But more because I'm disinclined
To enter on a painful matter:
Once I was bashful; I'll allow
I've blushed for words untimely spoken;
I still am rather shy, and now...
And now the ice is fairly broken.

We all have secrets: you have one
Which may n't be quite your charming spouse's;
We all lock up a Skeleton
In some grim chamber of our houses;
Familiars who exhaust their days
And nights in probing where our smart is,
And who, for all their spiteful ways,
Are "silent, unassuming Parties."

We hug this Phantom we detest,
Rarely we let it cross our portals:
It is a most exacting guest,
And we are much afflicted mortals.
Your neighbor Gay, that jovial wight,
As Dives rich, and brave as Hector,
Poor Gay steals twenty times a night,
On shaking knees, to see his Specter.

Old Dives fears a pauper fate,
So hoarding is his ruling passion: -
Some gloomy souls anticipate
A waistcoat, straiter than the fashion!
She childless pines, that lonely wife,
And secret tears are bitter shedding;
Hector may tremble all his life,
And die, - but not of that he's dreading....

Ah me, the World! How fast it spins!
The beldams dance, the caldron bubbles;
They shriek, they stir it for our sins,

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