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Macaulay's New Zealander

It little profits that, an idle man,
On this worn arch, in sight of wasted halls,
I mope, a solitary pelican,
And glower and glower for ever on Saint Paul's:—
Will no soft-hearted mortal be so very
Obliging as to row me o'er the ferry?

Here three-and-thirty years* I've stood estranged,
A dream of ruin all around me stretching;
And centuries shall see me yet unchanged,
Ever in act to sketch, but nothing sketching;
Mutely immutable, constrain'dly still,
With nought to stand against, except my will.

A wondrous lot is mine; ye bide your doom
Till men say Vixit: mine begins ere birth;
A lonely ghost projected from the womb
Of Time-to-come, I linger now on earth.
Ye vertebrates date back, while I commence
My weary present in the future tense.

A weird eidolon; a born paradox;
A fixture framed of incorporeal particles;
Yet dropped in many an Editorial box,
Blown thence in squibs, or hurled in Leading Articles;
A Nomad, though my permanent address is
In Volume Second of Macaulay's Essays.

I was not born of woman (see Macduff—
Nor stare to hear my lore so far extends;
The sire who bore me trafficked in such stuff,
And had his Shakespeare at his finger-ends:
The quitch is in the blood—such blood as ghost has;
I know as much as he; at least, almost as).

I was not born of woman; gave no pain;
Through no preliminary stage did pass;
But sprang, a Pallas, from Macaulay's brain,
Though not like her, with spear and helm of brass;
My spear, a pencil of Queensland plumbago;
My casque, a felt one—latest from Otago.

And therein lies the sting of all I bear—
That after brooding ages on mine arch,
And treasuring what the centuries prepare,
And noting what ye proudly term the March

Of Progress, and assimilating all
“The long result of Time,” see “Locksley-hall;”—

That after seeing all that mortal can,
That after learning all that man can learn,
This forecast shade, already more than man,
Must go and be a baby in its turn!
I've got to go and be a little kid,
When old perhaps as Cheops' Pyramid!

I've got to wear a little purfled cap;
Pass through, perchance, some brutal mode of swaddling;
To gather tissue from a bowl of pap;
To undergo no end of molly-coddling;
To be brought up by hand, or, worse and worse,
To be a parasite upon a nurse.

And in due course this cultured soul of mine
Must learn its Catechism by easy stages;
And sundry rods shall yet be steeped in brine,
To stimulate the heir of all the ages;
And men shall file away with prose and rhyme
To sharpen me, the foremost file of time.

I pray you, purist, faint not at the word;
For in the distant day whereof I speak,
Your chastened phrases shall be held absurd;
What you call slang shall be our Attic Greek;
And every man be file, or bloke, or cove;
And bloods make oath by Gum, instead of Jove!

For standing here, immovable and dumb,
An arch-Stylites, birth, not death, awaiting,
Faint inklings reach me of the time to come,
Beneath the loud To-day reverberating;
And I could tell of things so strange and wild,
Your wisest don would feel himself a child;—

Could show up many a now-belauded quackery;
Could play the deuce with half your saints and sages;
Could settle for you whether Boz or Thackeray
Shall be the admiration of the ages;
And whether Morris, Swinburne, and Rossetti
Shall number with the great, or with the petty;—

Could tell how empire shall have changed its place,
But must not “blow,” although an Australasian;
Could tell you which shall be the ruling race,
But may not shock the orthodox Caucasian,
Nor dare your curiosity assuage,

Lest I should make half-castes become the rage;—

Could tell you quite a fairy tale of science,
And wonders in Political Economy,
That set your time-worn statutes at defiance,
And hold them out of date as Deuteronomy:
The darky, boss; the trashy white, a “brudder;”
Man at the prow, and woman at the rudder;—

How all shall go by natural selection;
No man allowed to live unless good-looking;
How love shall vent itself in vivisection,
And charms be rated subsequent to cooking;
How girls instead of knitting sofa-covers,
Shall spend their leisure in tattooing lovers;

And how magnetic belts with dazzling hues
Shall draw unwilling arms around the waist;
How damsels to enhance their lips shall use
Odyllic force condensed into a paste;
And woo the bashful from his slow simplicity
With cakes of desiccated electricity; —

How education, as a gener
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:58 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 4,312
Words 786
Stanzas 20
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 4, 2, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 1, 6, 6, 6, 1

James Brunton Stephens

James Brunton Stephens was a Scottish-born Australian poet, author of Convict Once. more…

All James Brunton Stephens poems | James Brunton Stephens Books

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