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Posts Tagged ‘London’

I stood at eve, as the sun went down, by a grave where a woman lies,
Who lured men’s souls to the shores of sin with the light of her wanton eyes;
Who sang the song that the Siren sang on the treacherous Lurley height,
Whose face was as fair as a summer day, and whose heart was as black as night.

Yet a blossom I fain would pluck today from the garden above her dust –
Not the languorous lily of soulless sin, nor the blood-red rose of lust,
But a pure white blossom of holy love that grew in the one green spot
In the arid desert of Phryne’s life, where all was parched and hot.

In the summer, when the meadows were aglow with blue and red,
Joe, the hostler of the ‘Magpie,” and fair Annie Smith were wed.
Plump was Annie, plump and pretty, with cheek as white as snow;
He was anything but handsome, was the “Magpie” hostler, Joe.

But be won the winsome lassie. They’d a cottage and a cow;
And her matronhood sat lightly on the village beauty’s brow.
Sped the months and came a baby-such a blue-eyed baby boy;
Joe was working in the stables when they told him of his joy.

He was rubbing down the horses, and he gave them then and there
All a special feed of clover, just in honor of the heir.
It had been his great ambition, and he told the horses so,
That the Fates would send a baby who might bear the name of Joe.

Little Joe the child was christened, and, like babies, grew apace,
He’d his mother’s eyes of azure and his father’s honest face.
Swift the happy years went over, years of blue and cloudless sky,
Love was lord of that small cottage, and the tempest passed them by.

Passed them by for years, then swiftly burst in fury o’er their home.
Down the lane by Annie’s cottage chanced a gentleman to roam;
Thrice he came and saw her sitting by the window with her child,
And he nodded to the baby, and the baby laughed and smiled.

So at last it grew to know him-little Joe was nearly four-
He would call the “pretty gemlum’ as he passed the open door,
And one day he ran and caught him, and in child’s play pulled him in,
And the baby Joe had prayed for brought about the mother’s sin.

‘Twas the same old wretched story that for ages bards had sung,
‘Twas a woman weak and wanton, and a villain’s tempting tongue;
‘Twas a picture deftly painted for a silly creature’s eyes
Of the Babylonian wonders, and the joy that in them lies.

Annie listened and was tempted-she was tempted and she fell,
As the angel fell from heaven to the blackest depths of hell;
She was promised wealth and splendour, and a life of guilty sloth,
Yellow gold for child and husband-and the woman left them both.

Home one eve came Joe the hostler, with a cheery cry of “Wife!”
Finding that which blurred forever all the story of his life.
She had left a silly letter, — through the cruel scrawl he spelt;
Then he sought his lonely bedroom, joined his horny hands, and knelt.

“Now, 0 Lord, 0 God, forgive her, for she ain’t to blame,” he cried;
“For I owt to seen her trouble, and ‘a’ gone away and died.
Why, a wench like her-God bless her! ’twasn’t likely as her’d rest
With that bonnie head forever on a hostler’s rugged breast.”

“It was kind of her to bear me all this long and happy time;
So, for my sake please to bless her, though you count her deed a crime-,
If so be I don’t pray proper, Lord, forgive me; for you see
I can talk all right to ‘osses; but I’m nervouslike with Thee.”

Ne’er a line came to the cottage, from the woman who had flown;
Joe, the baby, died that winter, and the man was left alone.
Ne’er a bitter word he uttered, but in silence kissed the rod,
Saving what he told the horses-saving what he told his God.

Far away, in mighty London, rose the woman into fame,
For her beauty won men’s homage, and she prospered in her shame.
Quick from lord to lord she flitted, higher still each prize she won,
And her rivals paled beside her, as the stars beside the sun.

Next she trod the stage half naked, and she dragged a temple down
To the level of a market for the women of the town.
And the kisses she had given to poor hostler Joe for naught
With their gold and priceless jewels rich and titled rou’es bought.

Went the years with flying footsteps while her star was at its height,
Then the darkness came on swiftly, and the gloaming turned to night.
Shattered strength and faded beauty tore the laurels from her brow;
Of the thousands who had worshipped never one came near her now.

Broken down in health and fortune, men forgot her very name,
Till the news that she was dying woke the echoes of her fame;
And the papers, in their gossip, mentioned how an actress lay
Sick to death in humble lodgings, growing weaker every day.

One there was who read the story in a far-off country place,
And that night the dying woman woke and looked upon his face.
Once again the strong arms clasped her that had clasped her years ago,
And the weary head lay pillowed on the breast of hostler Joe.

All the past had he forgiven, all the sorrow and the shame;
He had found her sick and lonely, and his wife he now could claim,
Since the grand folks who had known her, one and all, had slunk away,
He could clasp his long-lost darling, and no man would say him nay.

In his arms death found her lying, in his arms her spirit fled;
And his tears came down in torrents as he knelt beside her dead.
Never once his love had faltered, through her base, unhallowed life,
And the stone above her ashes bears the honored name of wife.

That’s the blossom I fain would pluck today, from the garden above her dust;
Not the languorous lily of soulless sin, nor the blood-red rose of lust;
But a sweet white blossom of holy love, that grew in the one green spot
In the arid desert of Phryne’s life, where all was parched and hot.

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Composed Upon Westminster Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

 

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……………..London

Athwart the sky a lowly sigh
From west to east the sweet wind carried.
The sun stood still on Primrose Hill;
His light in all the city tarried;
The clouds on viewless columns bloomed
Like smouldering lilies unconsumed.

‘Oh sweetheart, see! How shadowy,
Of some occult magician’s rearing,
Or swung in space of heaven’s grace
Dissolving, dimly reappearing,
Afloat upon ethereal tides
St. Paul’s above the city rides?

A rumour broke through the thin smoke
Enwreathing abbey tower, and palace,
The parks, the squares, the thoroughfares,
The million-peopled lanes and alleys,
An ever-muttering  prisoned storm,
The heart of London beating warm.

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……………London

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning church appals’
And the hapless soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down palace walls.

But most thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot’s curse
Blasts the new-born infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.

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By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, an’ I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, an’ the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
…Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

“Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-let – jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her fust a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud –
What they called the Great Gawd Budd –
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!”
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ her cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephints a-pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ fur away,
An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, why, you won’t ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple bells;
On the road to Mandalay
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and –
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

Ship me somewheres east of Suez where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments, an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be –
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea –
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
Oh, the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

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