WITH PIPE AND BOOK.
With Pipe and Book at close of day,
Oh, what is sweeter, mortal, say?
It matters not what book on knee,
Old Izaak or the Odyssey,
It matters not meerschaum or clay.
And though one's eyes will dream astray,
And lips forget to sue or sway,
It is "enough to merely be,"
With Pipe and Book.
What though our modern skies be gray,
As bards aver, I will not pray
For "soothing Death" to succor me,
But ask this much, O Fate, of thee,
A little longer yet to stay
With Pipe and Book.
A POET'S PIPE. From the French of Charles Baudelaire.
A poet's pipe am I,
And my Abyssinian tint
Is an unmistakable hint
That he lays me not often by.
When his soul is with grief o'erworn
I smoke like the cottage where
They are cooking the evening fare
For the laborer's return.
I enfold and cradle his soul
In the vapors moving and blue
That mount from my fiery mouth;
And there is power in my bowl
To charm his spirit and soothe,
And heal his weariness too.
In spite of my physician, who is, entre nous, a fogy,
And for every little pleasure has some pathologic bogy,
Who will bear with no small vices, and grows dismally prophetic
If I wander from the weary way of virtue dietetic;
In spite of dire forewarnings that my brains will all be scattered,
My memory extinguished, and my nervous system shattered,
That my hand will take to trembling, and my heart begin to flutter,
My digestion turn a rebel to my very bread and butter;
As I puff this mild Havana, and its ashes slowly lengthen,
I feel my courage gather and my resolution strengthen:
I will smoke, and I will praise you, my cigar, and I will light you
With tobacco-phobic pamphlets by the learnéd prigs who fight you!
Let him who has a mistress to her eyebrow write a sonnet,
Let the lover of a lily pen a languid ode upon it;
In such sentimental subjects I'm a Philistine and cynic,
And prefer the inspiration drawn from sources nicotinic.
So I sing of you, dear product of (I trust you are) Havana,
And if there's any question as to how my verses scan, a
Reason is my shyness in the Muses' aid invoking,
As, like other ancient maidens, they perchance object to smoking.
I have learnt with you the wisdom of contemplative quiescence,
While the world is in a ferment of unmeaning effervescence,
That its jar and rush and riot bring no good one-half so sterling
As your fleecy clouds of fragrance that are now about me curling.
So, let stocks go up or downward, and let politicians wrangle,
Let the parsons and philosophers grope in a wordy tangle,
Let those who want them scramble for their dignities or dollars,
Be millionnaires or magnates, or senators or scholars.
I will puff my mild Havana, and I quietly will query,
Whether, when the strife is over, and the combatants are weary,
Their gains will be more brilliant than its faint expiring flashes,
Or more solid than this panful of its dead and sober ashes.
TO C.F. BRADFORD. On the Gift of a Meerschaum Pipe.
The pipe came safe, and welcome, too,
As anything must be from you;
A meerschaum pure, 'twould float as light
As she the girls called Amphitrite....