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The Home Book of Verse - Volume 4

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BALLADE OF THE PRIMITIVE JEST "What did the dark-haired Iberian laugh at before the tall blondeAryan drove him into the corners of Europe?"—Brander Matthews I am an ancient Jest!Palaeolithic manIn his arboreal nestThe sparks of fun would fan;My outline did he plan,And laughed like one possessed,'Twas thus my course began,I am a Merry Jest! I am an early Jest!Man delved, and built, and span;Then wandered South and WestThe peoples Aryan,I journeyed in their van;The Semites, too, confessed,—From Beersheba to Dan,—I am a Merry Jest! I am an ancient Jest!Through all the human clan,Red, black, white, free, oppressed,Hilarious I ran!I'm found in Lucian,In Poggio, and the rest,I'm dear to Moll and Nan!I am a Merry Jest! ENVOYPrince, you may storm and ban—Joe Millers are a pest,Suppress me if you can!I am a Merry Jest! Andrew Lang [1844-1912]


TIME TO BE WISE Yes; I write verses now and then,But blunt and flaccid is my pen,No longer talked of by young menAs rather clever:In the last quarter are my eyes,You see it by their form and size;Is it not time then to be wise?Or now or never. Fairest that ever sprang from Eve!While Time allows the short reprieve,Just look at me! would you believe'Twas once a lover?I cannot clear the five-bar gate;But, trying first its timber's state,Climb stiffly up, take breath, and waitTo trundle over. Through gallopade I cannot swingThe entangling blooms of Beauty's spring:I cannot say the tender thing,Be't true or false,And am beginning to opineThose girls are only half-divineWhose waists yon wicked boys entwineIn giddy waltz. I fear that arm above that shoulder;I wish them wiser, graver, older,Sedater, and no harm if colder,And panting less.Ah! people were not half so wildIn former days, when, starchly mild,Upon her high-heeled Essex smiledThe brave Queen Bess. Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]

UNDER THE LINDENS Under the lindens lately satA couple, and no more, in chat;I wondered what they would be atUnder the lindens. I saw four eyes and four lips meet,I heard the words, "How sweet! how sweet!"Had then the Fairies given a treatUnder the lindens? I pondered long and could not tellWhat dainty pleased them both so well:Bees! bees! was it your hydromelUnder the lindens? Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]

ADVICE To write as your sweet mother doesIs all you wish to do.Play, sing, and smile for others, Rose!Let others write for you. Or mount again your Dartmoor gray,And I will walk beside,Until we reach that quiet bayWhich only hears the tide. Then wave at me your pencil, thenAt distance bid me stand,Before the caverned cliff, againThe creature of your hand. And bid me then go past the nookTo sketch me less in size;There are but few content to lookSo little in your eyes. Delight us with the gifts you have,And wish for none beyond:To some be gay, to some be grave,To one (blest youth!) be fond. Pleasures there are how close to PainAnd better unpossessed...!