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Go, therefore, thou ! thy betters went
Long since, and came no more;
From many a tavern-door,
From misty men of letters ;
Thine elders and thy betters.
Hours, when the Poet's words and looks
Had yet their native glow :
Had made him talk for show;
He flash'd his random speeches ;
His literary leeches.
So mix for ever with the past,
Like all good things on earth! For should I prize thee, couldst thou last,
At half thy real worth ? I hold it good, good things should pass :
With time I will not quarrel : It is but yonder empty glass
That makes me maudlin-moral.
Head-waiter of the chop-house here,
To which I most resort,
For this good pint of port.
Marrow of mirth and laughter; And, wheresoe'er thou move, good luck
Shall fling her old shoe after.
But thou wilt never move from hence,
The sphere thy fate allots :
Go down among the pots :
In haunts of hungry sinners,
Of thirty thousand dinners.
We fret, we fume, would shift our skins,
Would quarrel with our lot;
To serve the hot-and-hot;
Returning like the pewit,
That trifle with the cruet.
Live long, ere from thy topmost head
The thick-set hazel dies ;
The corners of thine eyes :
Our changeful equinoxes,
Shall call thee from the boxes.
But when he calls, and thou shalt cease
To pace the gritted floor,
Of life, shalt earn no more ;
Shall show thee past to Heaven : But carved cross-pipes, and, underneath,
A pint-pot neatly graven.
AFTER PEADING A LIFE AND LETTERS.
“ Cursed be he that moves my bones.”
You might have won the Poet's name,
If such be worth the winning now,
And gain'd a laurel for your brow Of sounder leaf than I can claim ;
But you have made the wiser choice,
A life that moves to gracious ends
Thro' troops of unrecording friends, A deedful life, a silent voice :
And you have miss'd the irreverent doom
Of those that wear the Poet's crown:
Hereafter, neither knave nor clown Shall hold their orgies at your tomb.
For now the Poet cannot die
Nor leave his music as of old,
But round him ere he scarce be cold Begins the scandal and the cry :
Proclaim the faults he would not show :
Keep nothing sacred : 'tis but just
Ah shameless ! for he did but sing
A song that pleased us from its worth ;
No public life was his on earth, No blazon'd statesman he, nor king.
He gave the people of his best :
His worst he kept, his best he gave.
My Shakespeare's curse on clown and knave Who will not let his ashes rest!
Who make it seem more sweet to be
The little life of bank and brier,
The bird that pipes his lone desire And dies unheard within his tree,
Than he that warbles long and loud
And drops at Glory's temple-gates, For whom the carrion vulture waits To tear his heart before the crowd !