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NÉVER tell me there's no such thing as friends,
Steády, true, constant, without selfish ends;
Of my long life 't has been the happiness
To have had some five and twenty, more or less.
Aye, to be sure; friends of the summer day,
That at the approach of winter fled away,
Nó; sterling friends that ever ready were
The worst inclemencies for me to bear
Of wintry weather, hail and rain and snow,
No less than sultry summer's burning glow.
Alás! those valued friends are dead and gone,
Dropped off one after another all but one
Newest and last but not least stout and true
Thou 'st never seen a better parapluie.
Walking from Haag to HAINBACH near AMBERG (BAVARIA), June 25, 1854.
Sometimes it is slow, sometimes it 's quick,
But still the clock goes tick tick tick;
And tick tick tick from morn to night
Goes stíll the heart, be it sad or light;
But sád or light and slow or quick,
Both soon shall cease their tick tick tick.
TAUERNHAUS, FEHRLEITEN, at the foot of the GROSS - GLOCKNER, July 15, 1854.
Í, BEING a bốy, used thus to count my fingers :
Stand úp, right thúmb here; thou art Geoffrey Chaucer,
Grave, reverend father of old English song,
The clear, the strong, the dignified, the plain;
I love thee well, thy prologues and thy tales,
Never for me too long, nor long enough;
Thoú art my dictionary, primer, grammar;
From theé I 've learned, if I have learned, my tongue,
Nót from the modern winnowers perverse
Who sáve the chaff and cast away the grain.
Yét, Chaucer, though I honor and admire
And dearly love thee, there are in my breast
Some deep emotions which thou touchest never:
Kind, gentle, tearful pity, dire revenge,
Stérn, unrelenting hatred, and sweet love;
Awe reverential too of influences
Unearthly, unsubstantial, superhuman,
And almost adoration of the face
Sublime of wild, uncultivated nature -
Chaucer, thou touchest none of these; go down.
Stand úp, forefinger; thoú ’rt the arch - enchanter,
Sweet, fánciful, delicious, playful Shakespeare,
With his hobgoblins, fairies, Bottom, Puck,
His róbbers and his cút-throats and his witches,
And bóld Sir John and all his men in buckran,
And gentle Juliet and impassioned Romeo,
And bloody Richard wooing lady Ann
Or stúdying prayers between two reverend bishops.
But charming though thou art and captivating,
And loved within the cockles of my heart,
I 've yét a crow to pluck with thee, my Shakespeare;
For when thou shouldst be noble thou 'rt oft mean,
And full of prattle when thou shouldst be brief,
And, like a míser doating grown and blind,
Stúffest intó thy bags of gems and gold,
Nót the pure métals only but false coins
And vile alloys groped out of mire and dirt,
Which even the scavenger had disdained to touch -
I 'm sorry, Shakespeare, but thou must go down.
Stand up, strong middle finger; thou 'rt John Milton,
Mónarch of England's poets, prince of verse;
I love thy deep, harmonious, flowing numbers,
Thy sénse, thy leárning, gravity and knowledge,
Thy rátional Adam, and sweet, hapless Eve;
Bút I like not thy bitter polemics,
Thy small philosophy and mean religion,
Nor that inflexible, obdúrate temper
Thou bórrowedst from the temper of the times;
No vénial faults are these, so get thee down.
Stand úp, ring finger; thou 'rt accomplished Pope,
Melódious minstrel of the rounded rhyme,
Philosopher and satirist and wit,
Acúte, dogmatic, antithetic, bright,
The poet of the reason not the heart,
A pédagogue who lashes and instructs,
A rhétorician léss loved than admired,
Whó, when we ask him for a tender tale,
Reads us a syllogism, a dry prelection;
Yét for his brilliant wit's sake and his keen
Well mérited scourgings of that vicious age,
Ånd for the noble height at which he stood
Above religion's vile hypocrisy
I could forgive his frailties and forget,
Hád he but with more conscientious hand,
More skilled, more diligent, less imaginative,
Painted his English portrait of great Homer
Thou must go dówn, Pope, I love others better.
Stand up, weak little-finger; thou art Goldsmith,
Simple and tenderhearted to a fault,
The bútt of witlings, even of his best friends,
Johnson and Burke and Reynolds, coarser natures
But little capable of understanding,
Or dúly valuing had they understood,
The poet's almost childish inexpertness
In lífe's conventionalities, masquerade,
And subtle thimble-rig and hocus - pocus.
Yét his sweet Auburn, Traveller, Venison - Haunch,
Good, simple Vicar and queer Tony Lumpkin
Shall fill their separate niches in Fame's temple
When féw shall ask what was 't churl Johnson wrote,
Burke tálked about, or cold Sir Joshua painted.
Still áll too soft thy gentle genius, Goldsmith,
And more the wax resembling which receives,
Thán the hard stone which stamps, the strong impression;
I lóve thee well, but yet thou must go down.
Stand úp, left thumb here; thou art mighty Homer,
Bright morning sun of poesie heroic,
Whose beams far - darting west are with redoubled
Splendor and beauty from the disks reflected
Of the great Mantuan and British planets.
I knów not, Homer, whence thou in thy turn
Thy light hadst, whether from some farther sun
Whose ráys direct have never reached our eyes,
Ór from a fount in thine own self inherent,
But this I know at least: those sceptics err
Who seé indeed and recognise the light
But have no faith there ever was a Homer.
Well! let it be, so long as they cannot
Rób us same time of th’ Odyssey and Iliad,
Themselves, their species, of the noblest work
That issued ever from the hands of man;
Not perfect, some have said — alas! what 's perfect,
What can be perfect in imperfect eyes,
That múst, were 't but for change, have imperfection ?
So, blámed or blámeless, get thee down, great Homer.
Stand úp, forefinger; nightingale of Andes,
That in the dewy evening's pleasant cool
Sángst out of húmble hazelbush sweet ditties
Of Córydon and Thyrsis, and how best
To twine the póllard with the vine's soft arms;
Then bólder grown pour'dst from the highest top
Of bírch or hólm - oak thy sonorous song
Of wárs and battles, Gods and Goddesses,
And Róme's foundation by the second Jason,
Adventurous like the first, and, like the first,
Perfidious, calculating, cold seducer,
Whóm with more complaisance than truth thou styl'st
The tenderhearted – I blush for thee, Virgil;
Hádst thou no other fault, thou must go down.
Stand úp, strong middle finger; thou 'rt Venusium's Wórld - famous lyrist, moralist, and critic,