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Charades



I.

She stood at Greenwich, motionless amid
The ever-shifting crowd of passengers.
I marked a big tear quivering on the lid
Of her deep-lustrous eye, and knew that hers
Were days of bitterness. But, 'Oh! what stirs'
I said 'such storm within so fair a breast?'
Even as I spoke, two apoplectic curs
Came feebly up: with one wild cry she prest
Each singly to her heart, and faltered, 'Heaven be blest!'

Yet once again I saw her, from the deck
Of a black ship that steamed towards Blackwall.
She walked upon MY FIRST. Her stately neck
Bent o'er an object shrouded in her shawl:
I could not see the tears--the glad tears--fall,
Yet knew they fell. And 'Ah,' I said, 'not puppies,
Seen unexpectedly, could lift the pall
From hearts who KNOW what tasting misery's cup is,
As Niobe's, or mine, or Mr. William Guppy's.'

* * *

Spake John Grogblossom the coachman to Eliza Spinks the cook:
'Mrs. Spinks,' says he, 'I've foundered: 'Liza dear, I'm overtook.
Druv into a corner reglar, puzzled as a babe unborn;
Speak the word, my blessed 'Liza; speak, and John the coachman's yourn.'

Then Eliza Spinks made answer, blushing, to the coachman John:
'John, I'm born and bred a spinster: I've begun and I'll go on.
Endless cares and endless worrits, well I knows it, has a wife:
Cooking for a genteel family, John, it's a goluptious life!

'I gets 20 pounds per annum--tea and things o' course not reckoned, -
There's a cat that eats the butter, takes the coals, and breaks MY
SECOND:
There's soci'ty--James the footman;--(not that I look after him;
But he's aff'ble in his manners, with amazing length of limb -

'Never durst the missis enter here until I've said 'Come in':
If I saw the master peeping, I'd catch up the rolling-pin.
Christmas-boxes, that's a something; perkisites, that's something too;
And I think, take all together, John, I won't be on with you.'

John the coachman took his hat up, for he thought he'd had enough;
Rubbed an elongated forehead with a meditative cuff;
Paused before the stable doorway; said, when there, in accents mild,
'She's a fine young 'oman, cook is; but that's where it is, she's
spiled.'

* * *

I have read in some not marvellous tale,
(Or if I have not, I've dreamed)
Of one who filled up the convivial cup
Till the company round him seemed

To be vanished and gone, tho' the lamps upon
Their face as aforetime gleamed:
And his head sunk down, and a Lethe crept
O'er his powerful brain, and the young man slept.

Then they laid him with care in his moonlit bed:
But first--having thoughtfully fetched some tar -
Adorned him with feathers, aware that the weather's
Uncertainty brings on at nights catarrh.

They staid in his room till the sun was high:
But still did the feathered one give no sign
Of opening a peeper--he might be a sleeper
Such as rests on the Northern or Midland line.

At last he woke, and with profound
Bewilderment he gazed around;
Dropped one, then both feet to the ground,
But never spake a word:

Then to my WHOLE he made his way;
Took one long lingering survey;
And softly, as he stole away,
Remarked, 'By Jove, a bird!'

II.

If you've seen a short man swagger tow'rds the footlights at Shoreditch,
Sing out 'Heave aho! my hearties,' and perpetually hitch
Up, by an ingenious movement, trousers innocent of brace,
Briskly flourishing a cudgel in his pleased companion's face;

If he preluded with hornpipes each successive thing he did,
From a sun-browned cheek extracting still an ostentatious quid;
And expectorated freely, and occasionally cursed:-
Then have you beheld, depicted by a master's hand, MY FIRST.

O my countryman! if ever from thy arm the bolster sped,
In thy school-days, with precision at a young companion's head;
If 'twas thine to lodge the marble in the centre of the ring,
Or with well-directed pebble make the sitting hen take wing:

Then do thou--each fair May morning, when the blue lake is as glass,
And the gossamers are twinkling star-like in the beaded grass;
When the mountain-bee is sipping fragrance from the bluebell's lip,
And the bathing-woman tells you, Now's your time to take a dip:

When along the misty valleys fieldward winds the lowing herd,
And the early worm is being dropped on by the early bird;
And Aurora hangs her jewels from the bending rose's cup,
And the myriad voice of Nature calls thee to MY SECOND up:-

Hie thee to the breezy common, where the melancholy goose
Stalks, and the astonished donkey finds that he is
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:05 min read
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Charles Stuart Calverley

Charles Stuart Calverley was an English poet and wit. more…

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