THE BATTLE OF THE BAYS
By the same Author
IN CAP AND BELLS HORACE AT CAMBRIDGE TILLERS OF THE SAND
BY OWEN SEAMAN
JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD LONDON & NEW YORK 1902
Copyright in the United States. All Rights Reserved.
PAGE I. The Battle of the Bays 1 1. A Song of Renunciation 1 2. For the Albums of Crowned Heads Only 5 3. Marsyas in Hades 11 4. The Rhyme of the Kipperling 15 5. A Ballad of a Bun 22 6. A Vigo-Street Eclogue 27 7. An Ode to Spring in the Metropolis 37 8. Yet 42 9. Elegi Musarum 44 II. To Mr. William Watson 49 III. England's Alfred Abroad 53 IV. Lilith Libifera 57 V. Ars Postera 58 VI. A New Blue Book 61 VII. To a Boy-Poet of the Decadence 64 VIII. To Julia in Shooting Togs 66 IX. The Links of Love 69 X. Swords and Ploughshares 71 XI. To the Lord of Potsdam 76 XII. From the Lord of Potsdam 80 XIII. 'The Spacious Times' 83
I. THE BATTLE OF THE BAYS.
A SONG OF RENUNCIATION.
(AFTER A. C. S.)
In the days of my season of salad, When the down was as dew on my cheek, And for French I was bred on the ballad, For Greek on the writers of Greek,— Then I sang of the rose that is ruddy, Of 'pleasure that winces and stings,' Of white women and wine that is bloody, And similar things.
Of Delight that is dear as Desi-er, And Desire that is dear as Delight; Of the fangs of the flame that is fi-er, Of the bruises of kisses that bite; Of embraces that clasp and that sever, Of blushes that flutter and flee Round the limbs of Dolores, whoever Dolores may be.
I sang of false faith that is fleeting As froth of the swallowing seas, Time's curse that is fatal as Keating Is fatal to amorous fleas; Of the wanness of woe that is whelp of The lust that is blind as a bat— By the help of my Muse and the help of The relative THAT.
Panatheist, bruiser and breaker Of kings and the creatures of kings, I shouted on Freedom to shake her Feet loose of the fetter that clings; Far rolling my ravenous red eye, And lifting a mutinous lid, To all monarchs and matrons I said I Would shock them—and did.
Thee I sang, and thy loves, O Thalassian, O 'noble and nude and antique!' Unashamed in the 'fearless old fashion' Ere washing was done by the week; When the 'roses and rapture' that girt you Were visions of delicate vice, And the 'lilies and languors of virtue' Not nearly so nice.
O delights of the time of my teething, Felise, Fragoletta, Yolande! Foam-yeast of a youth in its seething On blasted and blithering sand! Snake-crowned on your tresses and belted With blossoms that coil and decay, Ye are gone; ye are lost; ye are melted Like ices in May.
Hushed now is the bibulous bubble Of 'lithe and lascivious' throats; Long stript and extinct is the stubble Of hoary and harvested oats; From the sweets that are sour as the sorrel's The bees have abortively swarmed; And Algernon's earlier morals Are fairly reformed.
I have written a loyal Armada, And posed in a Jubilee pose; I have babbled of babies and played a New tune on the turn of their toes; Washed white from the stain of Astarte, My books any virgin may buy; And I hear I am praised by a party Called Something Mackay!
When erased are the records, and rotten The meshes of memory's net; When the grace that forgives has forgotten The things that are good to forget; When the trill of my juvenile trumpet Is dead and its echoes are dead; Then the laurel shall lie on the crumpet And crown of my head!
FOR THE ALBUMS OF CROWNED HEADS ONLY.
(AFTER SIR E. A.)
1. From the third Sa'dine Box of the eighth Gazelle of Ghazal.
Ya Ya! Best-Beloved! I look to thy dimples and drink; Tiddlihi! to thy cheek-pits and chin-pit, my Tulip, my Pink!
See my heart rises up like a bubble, and bursts in my throat, And the dimples that draw it are Three, like the Men in a Boat.
Thrice Three are the Muses, and I that begat her should guess That the Tenth is the TELE-EPHEMERA, Pride of the PRESS!
And the Graces were triplets till lately the fruitful Diti Propagated a Fourth, and the infant was W. G.
From my post of Propinquity prone on my languorous knees My tears slither down like the Gum of Arabia's trees.
"Am I drunk?" Heart-Entangler! By Hafiz, the Blender of Squish! 'Tis the camel that sits on the prayer-mat is drunk as a fish.
As I hope for the future Uprising, deny it who can, Two years I have worn the Blue Ribbon, come next Ramadan!
Chest-Preserver! thou knowest thine eyes, they alone, are my drink, Blue-black as the sloes of the Garden or Stephens his Ink.
On thy sugar-sweet liplets, my Cypress! I browse like a bee, And am aching, as after a surfeit of Melon, for thee!
Low laid at thy feet—little feet—in the dust like a worm, Round the train of thy skirt, O my Peacock, I fitfully squirm.
By Allah! I swoon, I rotate, I am sickly of hue! And the Infidel swore that Jam-Jam was a Temperance brew!
Heart-Punisher! Surely I think it was jalapped with gin! Aha! Paradise! I am passing! So be it! Amin!
2. From a little thing by the Princess Onono Goawai.
The bulbul hummeth like a book Upon the pooh-pooh tree, And now and then he takes a look At you and me, At me and you. Kuchi! Kuchoo!
3. From the Sanskrit of Matabiliwaijo.
Wind! a word with thee! thou goest where my Well-Preserved lies On her bed of bonny briers keeping off the wicked flies.
Thou shalt know her by th' aroma of her bosom, which is musk, And her ivories that glisten like an elephantine tusk.
Seek her coral-guarded tympanum and whisper "Poppinjai!" And (referring to her lover) kindly add "A-lal-lal-lai!"
Breeze! thou knowest my condition; state it broadly, if you please, In a smattering of Indo-Turco-Perso-Japanese.
Say my youth is flitting freely, and before the season goes From the garden of my Tutsi I am fain to pluck a rose.
Tell her I'm a wanton Sufi (what a Sufi really is She may know, perhaps—I count it one of Allah's mysteries).
Fly, O blessed Breeze, and hither bring me back the net result; Fly as flies the rude mosquito from Abdullah's catapult.
Fly as flies the rusty rickshaw of the Kurumayasan, When he scents a Hippopotam down the groves of Gulistan.
Fly and cull, O cull, a section of my Pipkin's purple tress; Thou shalt find me drinking deeply with the Lords that rule the Mess;
Quaffing mead and mighty sodas with the Johnis, Lords of War, Talking 'jungle in the gun-room,' underneath the deodar.
Hoo Tawa! I go to join them; he that cometh late is curst, For the Lords of War (by Akbar) have a most amazing thirst!
MARSYAS IN HADES.
(AFTER SIR L. M.)
Next I saw A pensive gentleman of middle age, That leaned against a Druid oak, his pipe Pendent beneath his chin—a double one— (Meaning the pipe); reluctant was his breath, For he had mingled in the Morris dance And rested blown; but damsels in their teens, All decorous and decorously clad, Their very ankles hardly visible, Recalled his motions; while, for chaperon, Good Mrs. Grundy up against the wall Beamed approbation.
On his face I read Signs of high sadness such as poets wear, Being divinely discontented with The praise of jeunes filles. Even as I looked, He touched the portion of his pipe reserved For minor poetry of solemn tone, Checking the humorous stops intended for Electioneering posters and the like; And therewithal he made the following Addition to his Songs Unsung, or else His Unremarked Remarks:
"Dear Sir," he said, "Excuse my saying 'Sir' like that; it is Our way in Hades here among the damned; For you must know that some of us are damned Not only by faint praise but full applause Of simple critics. Take my case. In me Behold the good knight Marsyas, M.A., Three times a candidate for Parliament, And twice retired; a Justice of the Peace; Master of Arts (I said), and better known In literary spheres as Master of The Mediocre-Obvious; and read By boarding-misses in their myriads. These dote upon me. Sweetly have I sung The commonplaces of philosophy In common parlance.
You have read perhaps The Cymric Triads? Poetry, they say, Excels alone by sheer simplicity Of language, subject, and invention. Sir! The excellence of mine lay that way too. But fate is partial. Heaven's fulgour moulds 'To happiness some, some to unhappiness!' (Look you, the harp was Welsh that figured forth That excellent last line.) I ask you, Sir, What would you? Ill content with mortal praise, And haply somewhat overbold, I sought To be as gods be; sought, in fact, to filch Apollo's bays!
Ah me! Dear me! I fain Would use a stronger phrase, but hardly dare, Being, whatever else, respectable. I say I tired of vulgar homage, gift Of ignorance. 'High failure overleaps The bounds of low successes' (there, again, The harp that twanged was Welsh, but with an echo Of Browning). Godlike it must be, I thought, To climb the giddy brink; to pen, for instance, An Ode to the Imperial Institute, And fall, if bound to, from a decent height.
I did and missed the laurel; still I go On writing; what you hear just now is blank, Distinctly blank, and might be measured by The kilometre; yet I rhyme as well A little; but it takes a lot of time, And checks the lapse of my pellucid stream Not all conveniently."
Thereat he paused, And wrung the moisture from his pipe; but I, As one that was intolerably bored, Took even this occasion to be gone; And, going, marked him how he took his stile, Polished the waxen tablets, and began To make a Royal Paean by request, Or so he said.
THE RHYME OF THE KIPPERLING.
(AFTER R. K.)
[N.B.—No nautical terms or statements guaranteed.]
Away by the haunts of the Yang-tse-boo, Where the Yuletide runs cold gin, And the rollicking sign of the Lord Knows Who Sees mariners drink like sin; Where the Jolly Roger tips his quart To the luck of the Union Jack; And some are screwed on the foreign port, And some on the starboard tack;— Ever they tell the tale anew Of the chase for the kipperling swag; How the smack Tommy This and the smack Tommy That They broached each other like a whiskey-vat, And the Fuzzy-Wuz took the bag.
Now this is the law of the herring fleet that harries the northern main, Tattooed in scars on the chests of the tars with a brand like the brand of Cain: That none may woo the sea-born shrew save such as pay their way With a kipperling netted at noon of night and cured ere the crack of day.
It was the woman Sal o' the Dune, and the men were three to one, Bill the Skipper and Ned the Nipper and Sam that was Son of a Gun; Bill was a Skipper and Ned was a Nipper and Sam was the Son of a Gun, And the woman was Sal o' the Dune, as I said, and the men were three to one.
There was never a light in the sky that night of the soft midsummer gales, But the great man-bloaters snorted low, and the young 'uns sang like whales; And out laughed Sal (like a dog-toothed wheel was the laugh that Sal laughed she): "Now who's for a bride on the shady side of up'ards of forty-three?"
And Neddy he swore by butt and bend, and Billy by bend and bitt, And nautical names that no man frames but your amateur nautical wit; And Sam said, "Shiver my topping-lifts and scuttle my foc's'le yarn, And may I be curst, if I'm not in first with a kipperling slued astarn!"
Now the smack Tommy This and the smack Tommy That and the Fuzzy-Wuz smack, all three, Their captains bold, they were Bill and Ned and Sam respectivelee.
And it's writ in the rules that the primary schools of kippers should get off cheap For a two mile reach off Foulness beach when the July tide's at neap; And the lawless lubbers that lust for loot and filch the yearling stock They get smart raps from the coastguard chaps with their blunderbuss fixed half-cock.
Now Bill the Skipper and Ned the Nipper could tell green cheese from blue, And Bill knew a trick and Ned knew a trick, but Sam knew a trick worth two.
So Bill he sneaks a corporal's breeks and a belt of pipeclayed hide, And splices them on to the jibsail-boom like a troopship on the tide.
And likewise Ned to his masthead he runs a rag of the Queen's, With a rusty sword and a moke on board to bray like the Horse Marines.
But Sam sniffs gore and he keeps off-shore and he waits for things to stir, Then he tracks for the deep with a long fog-horn rigged up like a bowchaser.
Now scarce had Ned dropped line and lead when he spots the pipeclayed hide, And the corporal's breeks on the jibsail-boom like a troopship on the tide; And Bill likewise, when he ups and spies the slip of a rag of the Queen's, And the rusty sword, and he sniffs aboard the moke of the Horse Marines.
So they each luffed sail, and they each turned tail, and they whipped their wheels like mad, When the one he said "By the Lord, it's Ned!" and the other, "It's Bill, by Gad!"
Then about and about, and nozzle to snout, they rammed through breach and brace, And the splinters flew as they mostly do when a Government test takes place.
Then up stole Sam with his little ram and the nautical talk flowed free, And in good bold type might have covered the two front sheets of the P. M. G.
But the fog-horn bluff was safe enough, where all was weed and weft, And the conger-eels were a-making meals, and the pick of the tackle left Was a binnacle-lid and a leak in the bilge and the chip of a cracked sheerstrake And the corporal's belt and the moke's cool pelt and a portrait of Francis Drake.
So Sam he hauls the dead men's trawls and he booms for the harbour-bar, And the splitten fry are salted dry by the blink of the morning star.
And Sal o' the Dune was wed next moon by the man that paid his way With a kipperling netted at noon of night and cured ere the crack of day; For such is the law of the herring fleet that bloats on the northern main, Tattooed in scars on the chests of the tars with a brand like the brand of Cain.
And still in the haunts of the Yang-tse-boo Ever they tell the tale anew Of the chase for the kipperling swag; How the smack Tommy This and the smack Tommy That They broached each other like a whiskey-vat, And the Fuzzy-Wuz took the bag.
A BALLAD OF A BUN.
(AFTER J. D.)
'I am sister to the mountains now, And sister to the sun and moon.'
'Heed not belletrist jargon.'
From Whitsuntide to Whitsuntide— That is to say, all through the year— Her patient pen was occupied With songs and tales of pleasant cheer.
But still her talent went to waste Like flotsam on an open sea; She never hit the public taste, Or knew the knack of Bellettrie.
Across the sounding City's fogs There hurtled round her weary head The thunder of the rolling logs; "The Critics' Carnival!" she said.
Immortal prigs took heaven by storm, Prigs scattered largesses of praise; The work of both was rather warm; "This is," she said, "the thing that pays!"
Sharp envy turned her wine to blood— I mean it turned her blood to wine; And this resolve came like a flood— "The cake of knowledge must be mine!
"I am in Eve's predicament— I sha'n't be happy till I've sinned; Away!" She lightly rose, and sent Her scruples sailing down the wind.
She did not tear her open breast, Nor leave behind a track of gore, But carried flannel next her chest, And wore the boots she always wore.
Across the sounding City's din She wandered, looking indiscreet, And ultimately landed in The neighbourhood of Regent Street.
She ran against a resolute Policeman standing like a wall; She kissed his feet and asked the route To where they held the Carnival.
Her strange behaviour caused remark; They said, "Her reason has been lost;" Beside her eyes the gas was dark, But that was owing to the frost.
A Decadent was dribbling by; "Lady," he said, "you seem undone; You need a panacea; try This sample of the Bodley bun.
"It is fulfilled of precious spice, Whereof I give the recipe;— Take common dripping, stew in vice, And serve with vertu; taste and see!
"And lo! I brand you on the brow As kin to Nature's lowest germ; You are sister to the microbe now, And second-cousin to the worm."
He gave her of his golden store, Such hunger hovered in her look; She took the bun, and asked for more, And went away and wrote a book.
To put the matter shortly, she Became the topic of the town; In all the lists of Bellettrie Her name was regularly down.
"We recognise," the critics wrote, "Maupassant's verve and Heine's wit;" Some even made a verbal note Of Shakespeare being out of it.
The seasons went and came again; At length the languid Public cried: "It is a sorry sort of Lane That hardly ever turns aside.
"We want a little change of air; On that," they said, "we must insist; We cannot any longer bear The seedy sex-impressionist."
Across the sounding City's din This rumour smote her on the ear: "The publishers are going in For songs and tales of pleasant cheer!"
"Alack!" she said, "I lost the art, And left my womanhood foredone, When first I trafficked in the mart All for a mess of Bodley bun.
"I cannot cut my kin at will, Or jilt the protoplastic germ; I am sister to the microbe still, And second-cousin to the worm!"
A VIGO-STREET ECLOGUE.
(AFTER THE SAME)
Maecenas. John. George. Arthur. Grant. Richard.
What ho! a merry Christmas! Pff! Sharp blows the frosty blizzard's whff! Pile on more logs and let them roll, And pass the humming wassail-bowl!
The wassail-bowl! the wind is snell! Drinc hael! and warm the poet's pell!
Richard! say something rustic.
Lo! The customary mistletoe, Prehensile on the apple-bough, Invites the usual kiss.
And now Cathartic hellebore should be A cure for imbecility.
Now holly-berries have begun To blush for Women That Have Done.
The farmer sticks his stuffy goose!
Come, come, you grow a little loose; That's Michaelmas; you must remember That Michaelmas is in September!
Northward the swallow sweeps his wing.
No, no! the bird arrives in spring!
Such knowledge fits the country clown; We've better things to note in town. What's Nature's lore compared with women's?
For this enigma go to S-m-ns; He is the——
Yes, I am, I know, The devil of a Romeo!
Hark! hark! the waits, the precious waits! Their music beats at Heaven's gates.
What Bodley wight will sing a stave To match their strumming? I would have The manly bass of Hobbes's voice; But Unwin's house is Hobbes's choice. George! you've a baritone at need.
Alas! my famous Keynotes lead To Discords.
I've a little thing Of Resurrection. Shall I sing?
Please do; but a propos of what?
I cannot say, unless de bottes.
[Proceeds to sing a Ballad of Resurrection.
A letter-card from my dear love! O folded page of blessed blue! She burst her many-buttoned glove, And ripped the perforation through.
"My love, to-night, about eleven, With never a priest or passing-bell, We die! and meet, with luck, in Heaven, But anyhow at least in Hell!"
Her courage very nearly failed, In fact she swooned along the floor; But curiosity prevailed, She came again and read some more.
"There is no way but this to choose; My people fain would have us wed; But you and I have later views, And scorn the vulgar marriage-bed.
"Far be it from me to dictate How best to break the mortal bond, But personally I may state That I shall use the village pond.
"Be punctual, love, and let us meet For weal or woe! This line has lost a pair of feet; The post is now about to go."
Ay, ay, she thought, to meet were well, But if we found each other out? You, say, in Heaven, I in Hell, Or else the other way about!
Nay, there be heavy odds, she said, One fate shall save us both or damn; We surely shall be bracketed! She ceased and sent a telegram.
To Guy le Preux de Balthazar— Here followed his address, and then This pregnant message—"Right you are!" She wrote it with the office pen.
She flashed the phrase along the wires, Then, passing by a dagger-shop, Bought one and wiped it on her sire's Best graduated razor-strop.
On second thoughts, she said, I lean To poison; true, a knife like this Looks pretty, rib and rib between, But people very often miss.
She sought the chemist in his place; He sampled her with searching eye; She looked him frankly in the face, And told a wicked, wicked lie.
"My hen," she said,—"a bantam blend— Has hatched a poor demented chick; To ease the gentle creature's end I want a pint of arsenic."
The chemist deemed the order large, But said no thing and drew the drug; She seized and bore the sacred charge Before her in a pewter mug.
At tea she faced her fell intent; Dressing, she lightly laughed at doom; Dined with the family, and spent The evening in the drawing-room.
At ten the early rooster crowed; Ten-thirty struck and she was gone; She crossed alone the naked road; The road had really nothing on.
Her golden braids hung down her back; Within her side she felt a stitch; And once the moon behind the wrack Came out and caught her in a ditch.
Once ere she reached the trysting-pear She broke the slumber of the rooks; She wrung her hands, she tore her hair, And did as people do in books.
From out her cloak she fetched the drug— "Thy health, my love, in Heaven or Hell!" Deep to the dregs she drained the mug And dropped it, feeling far from well.
Upon the punctual stroke her fond True lover kept the oath he swore; Plunged softly in the village pond, But feeling chilly swam ashore.
Next morning in the judgment-place Two pallid prisoners were tried; Their guilt was plain; it was a case Of ineffective suicide.
Yestreen a member of the Force Had found a woman deadly sick, Lamenting, with sincere remorse, An overdose of arsenic.
Another heard upon his beat One darkly muttering, "This is Hell!" His weed was wet from head to feet; He put him in a common cell.
The Justice chewed the evidence; His eyes were soft, his lips were bland; It was, he said, a first offence; He merely gave a reprimand.
"Go free, my poppets, keep the laws, And get ye wed at once," said he; The court indulged in rude applause; The usher cleared the gallery.
The prison-warder, deeply stirred, Approached the culprits at the bar; Then haled them forth without a word Towards the nearest Registrar.
John, you surpass yourself. Next week Expect a flattering critique!
The waits are whining in the cold With clavicorn and clarigold; They play them like a crumpled horn, The clarigold and clavicorn.
AN ODE TO SPRING IN THE METROPOLIS.
(AFTER R. LE G.)
Is this the Seine? And am I altogether wrong About the brain, Dreaming I hear the British tongue? Dear Heaven! what a rhyme! And yet 'tis all as good As some that I have fashioned in my time, Like bud and wood; And on the other hand you couldn't have a more precise or neater Metre.
Is this, I ask, the Seine? And yonder sylvan lane, Is it the Bois? Ma foi! Comme elle est chic, my Paris, my grisette! Yet may I not forget That London still remains the missus Of this Narcissus.
No, no! 'tis not the Seine! It is the artificial mere That permeates St. James's Park. The air is bosom-shaped and clear; And, Himmel! do I hear the lark, The good old Shelley-Wordsworth lark? Even now, I prithee, Hark Him hammer On Heaven's harmonious stithy, Dew-drunken—like my grammar!
And O the trees! Beneath their shade the hairless coot Waddles at ease, Hushing the magic of his gurgling beak; Or haply in Tree-worship leans his cheek Against their blind And hoary rind, Observing how the sap Comes humming upwards from the tap- Root! Thrice happy, hairless coot!
And O the sun! See, see, he shakes His big red hands at me in wanton fun! A glorious image that! it might be Blake's; As in my critical capacity I took occasion to remark elsewhere, When heaping praise On this exceptionally happy phrase, Although I made it up myself. But I and Blake, we really constitute a pair, Each being rather like an artless woodland elf.
And O the stars! I cannot say I see a star just now, Not at this time of day; But anyhow The stars are all my brothers; (This verse is shorter than the others).
O Constitution Hill! (This verse is shorter still).
Ah! London, London in the Spring! You are, you know you are, So full of curious sights, Especially by nights. From gilded bar to gilded bar Youth goes his giddy whirl, His heart fulfilled of Music-Hall, His arm fulfilled of girl! I frankly call That last effect a perfect pearl!
I know it's Not given to many poets To frame so fair a thing As this of mine, of Spring. Indeed, the world grows Lilliput All but A precious few, the heirs of utter godlihead, Who wear the yellow flower of blameless bodlihead!
And they, with Laureates dead, look down On smaller fry unworthy of the crown, Mere mushroom men, puff-balls that advertise And bravely think to brush the skies. Great is advertisement with little men! Moi, qui vous parle, L- G-ll—nn-, Have told them so; I ought to know!
(AFTER F. E. W.)
Sing me a drawing-room song, darling! Sing by the sunset's glow; Now while the shadows are long, darling; Now while the lights are low; Something so chaste and so coy, darling! Something that melts the chest; Milder than even Molloy, darling! Better than Bingham's best.
Sing me a drawing-room song, darling! Sing as you sang of yore, Lisping of love that is strong, darling! Strong as a big barn-door; Let the true knight be bold, darling! Let him arrive too late; Stick in a bower of gold, darling! Stick in a golden gate.
Sing me a drawing-room song, darling! Bear on the angels' wings Children that know no wrong, darling! Little cherubic things! Sing of their sunny hair, darling! Get them to die in June; Wake, if you can, on the stair, darling! Echoes of tiny shoon.
Sing me a drawing-room song, darling! Sentiment may be false, Yet it will worry along, darling! Set to a tum-tum valse; See that the verses are few, darling! Keep to the rule of three; That will be better for you, darling! Certainly better for me.
(AFTER W. W.)
[To Mr. St. Loe Strachey.]
Dawn of the year that emerges, a fine and ebullient Phoenix, Forth from the cinders of Self, out of the ash of the Past; Year that discovers my Muse in the thick of purpureal sonnets, Slating diplomacy's sloth, blushing for 'Abdul the d——d'; Year that in guise of a herald declaring the close of the tourney Clears the redoubtable lists hot with the Battle of Bays; Binds on the brows of the Tory, the highly respectable Austin, Laurels that Phoebus of old wore on the top of his tuft;
Leaving the locks of the hydra, of Bodley the numerous-headed, Clean as the chin of a boy, bare as a babe in a bath; Year that—I see in the vista the principal verb of the sentence Loom as a deeply-desired bride that is late at the post— Year that has painfully tickled the lachrymal nerves of the Muses, Giving Another the gift due to Respectfully Theirs;— Hinc illae lacrimae! Ah, reader! I grossly misled you; See, it was false; there is no principal verb after all!
His likewise is the anguish, who followed with soft serenading Me as the tremulous tide tracks the meandering moon; Climbing as Romeo clomb, peradventure by help of a flower-pot, Where in her balconied bower lay, inexpressibly coy, Juliet, not as the others, supinely, insanely erotic, Pallid and yellow of hue, very degenerate souls, Rioting round with the rapture of palpitant ichorous ardour, But an immaculate maid, 'one,' you may say, 'of the best'! His, I repeat, is the anguish—my journalist, eulogist critic, Strachey, the generous judge, Saintly unlimited Loe!
Vainly the stolid Spectator, bewildered with fabulous bow-wows, Sick with a surfeit of dog, ran me for all it was worth! Vainly—if I may recur to a metaphor drawn from the ocean, Long (in a figure of speech) tied to the tail of the moon— Vainly, O excellent organ! with ample and aqueous unction Once, as a rule, in a week, 'cleansing the Earth of her stain'; (Here you will possibly pardon the natural scion of poets, Proud with humility's pride, spoiling a passage from Keats)— Vainly your voice on the ears of impregnable Laureate-makers, Rang as the sinuous sea rings on a petrified coast; Vainly your voice with a subtle and slightly indelicate largess, Broke on an obdurate world hymning the advent of Me; When from the 'commune of air,' from 'the exquisite fabric of Silence,' I, a superior orb, burst into exquisite print!
What shall we say for your greeting, O good horticultural Alfred! Royalty's darling and pride, crown of the Salisbury Press? Now when the negligent Public, in search of a subject for dinner, Asks for the names of your books, Lord! what a boom there will be! Hoarse in Penbryn are the howlings that rise for the hope of the Cymri; Over her Algernon's head Putney composes a dirge; Edwin anathematises politely in various lingos; Davidson ruminates hard over a Ballad of Hell; Fondly Le Gallienne fancies how pretty the Delphian laurels Would have appeared on his own hairy and passionate poll; I, imperturbably careless, untainted of jealousy's jaundice, Simply regret the profane contumely done to the Muse; Done to the Muse in the person of Me, her patron, that never Licked Ministerial lips, dusted the boots of the Court! Surely I hear through the noisy and nauseous clamour of Carlton Sobs of the sensitive Nine heave upon Helicon's hump!
II. TO MR. WILLIAM WATSON.
[On writing the first instalment of The Purple East, a 'fine sonnet which it is our privilege to publish.'—Westminster Gazette, Dec. 16, 1895.]
Dear Mr. Watson, we have heard with wonder, Not all unmingled with a sad regret, That little penny blast of purple thunder, You issued in the Westminster Gazette; The Editor describes it as a sonnet; I wish to make a few remarks upon it.
Never, O craven England, nevermore Prate thou of generous effort, righteous aim! So ran the lines, and left me very sore, For you may guess my heart was hot with shame: Even thus early in your ample song I felt that something must be really wrong.
But when I learned that our ignoble nation Lay sleeping like a log, and lay alone, Propping, according to your information, Abdul the Damned on his infernal throne, O then I scattered to the wind my fears, And nearly went and joined the Volunteers.
But just in time the thought occurred to me That England commonly commits her course To men as good at heart as even we And possibly much richer in resource; That we had better mind our own affairs And leave these gentlemen to manage theirs.
It further seemed a work uncommon light For one like you, a casual civilian, To order half a hemisphere to fight And slaughter one another by the million, While you yourself, a paper Galahad, Spilt ink for blood upon a blotting-pad.
The days are gone when sword and poet's pen One gallant gifted hand was wont to wield; When Taillefer in face of Harold's men Rode foremost on to Senlac's fatal field, And tossed his sword in air, and sang a spell Of Roland's battle-song, and, singing, fell.
The days are gone when troubadours by dozens Polished their steel and joined the stout crusade, Strumming, in memory of pretty cousins, The Girl I left behind Me, on parade; They often used to rattle off a ballad in The intervals of punishing the Saladin.
In later times, of course I know there's Byron, Who by his own report could play the man; I seem to see him with his Lesbian lyre on, And brandishing a useful yataghan; Though never going altogether strong, he Managed at least to die at Missolonghi.
No more the trades of lute and lance are linked, Though doubtless under many martial bonnets Brave heads there be that harbour the distinct Belief that they can manufacture sonnets; But on the other hand a bard is not Supposed to run the risk of being shot.
Then since your courage lacks a crucial test, And politics were never your profession, Dear Mr. Watson, won't you find it best To temper valour with a due discretion? That so, despite the fond Spectator's booming, Above your brow the bays may yet be blooming.
III. ENGLAND'S ALFRED ABROAD.
[M. Alfred Austin, poete-laureat d'Angleterre, vient d'arriver a Nice, ou il a devance la Reine. Il etait, hier, dans les jardins de Monte-Carlo. Sera-ce sous notre ciel qu'il ecrira son premier poeme?—Menton-Mondain.]
Wrong? are they wrong? Of course they are, I venture to reply; For I bore 'my first' (and, I hope, my worst) A month or so gone by; And I can't repeat it under this Or any other sky.
What! has the public never heard In these benighted climes That nascent note of my Laureate throat, That fluty fitte of rhymes Which occupied about a half A column of the Times?
They little know what they have lost, Nor what a carnal beano They might have spent in the thick of Lent If only Daniel Leno Had sung them Jameson's Ride and knocked The Monaco Casino.
Some day the croupiers' furtive eyes Will all be wringing wet; Even the Prince will hardly mince The language of regret At entertaining unawares The famed Alhambra Pet.
But still not quite incognito I mark the moving scene, In a tepid zone where (like my own) The palms are ever green, And find myself reported as A herald of the Queen.
Here where aloft the heavens are blue, And blue the seas below, I roll my eye and fondly try To get the rhymes to go, As I pace The Garden that I love, Composing all I know.
But when my poet-pinions droop, And all the air is wan, I enter in to the courts of sin And put a louis on, And hold my heart and look again, And lo! the thing is gone!
Wrong? is it wrong? To baser crafts Has England's Alfred pandered, Who once to the sign of Phoebus' shrine With awesome gait meandered, And ever wrote in the cause of right According to his Standard?
Nay! this is life! to take a turn On Fortune's captious crust; To pluck the day in a human way Like men of common dust; But O! if England's only bard Should absolutely bust!
A laureate never borrows on His coming quarter's pay; And I mean to stop or ever I pop My crown of peerless bay; So I'll take the next rapide to Nice, And the 'bus to Cimiez.
MENTONE, Feb., 1896.
IV. LILITH LIBIFERA.
Exhumed from out the inner cirque of Hell By kind permission of the Evil One, Behold her devilish presentment, done By Master Aubrey's weird unearthly spell! This is that Lady known as Jezebel, Or Lilith, Eden's woman-scorpion, Libifera, that is, that takes the bun, Borgia, Vivien, Cussed Damosel.
Hers are the bulging lips that fairly break The pumpkin's heart; and hers the eyes that shame The wanton ape that culls the cocoa-nuts. Even such the yellow-bellied toads that slake Nocturnally their amorous-ardent flame In the wan waste of weary water-butts.
V. ARS POSTERA.
[On an advertisement of A Comedy of Sighs.]
Mr. Aubrey Beer de Beers, You're getting quite a high renown; Your Comedy of Leers, you know, Is posted all about the town; This sort of stuff I cannot puff, As Boston says, it makes me 'tired'; Your Japanee-Rossetti girl Is not a thing to be desired.
Mr. Aubrey Beer de Beers, New English Art (excuse the chaff) Is like the Newest Humour style, It's not a thing at which to laugh; But all the same, you need not maim A beauty reared on Nature's rules; A simple maid au naturel Is worth a dozen spotted ghouls.
Mr. Aubrey Beer de Beers, You put strange phantoms on our walls, If not so daring as To-day's, Nor quite so Hardy as St. Paul's; Her sidelong eyes, her giddy guise,— Grande Dame Sans Merci she may be; But there is that about her throat Which I myself don't care to see.
Mr. Aubrey Beer de Beers, The Philistines across the way, They say her lips—well, never mind Precisely what it is they say; But I have heard a drastic word That scarce is fit for dainty ears; But then their taste is not the kind Of taste to flatter Beer de Beers.
Bless me, Aubrey Beer de Beers, On fair Elysian lawns apart Burd Helen of the Trojan time Smiles at the latest mode of Art; Howe'er it be, it seems to me, It's not important to be New; New Art would better Nature's best, But Nature knows a thing or two.
Aubrey, Aubrey Beer de Beers, Are there no models at your gate, Live, shapely, possible and clean? Or won't they do to 'decorate'? Then by all means bestrew your scenes With half the lotuses that blow, Pothooks and fishing-lines and things, But let the human woman go!
VI. A NEW BLUE BOOK.
[It was hardly to be supposed that the young decadents who once rioted ... in the Yellow Book would be content to remain in obscurity after the metamorphosis of that periodical and the consequent exclusion of themselves. The Savoy, we learn, to be edited by Mr. Arthur Symons and Mr. Aubrey Beardsley, will appear early in December.—Globe.]
'The world's great age begins anew,' Cold virtue's weeds are cast; Our heads are light, our tales are blue, And things are moving fast; And no one any longer quarrels With anybody else's morals.
A racier journal stamps its pages With Beardsleys braver far; A bolder Editor engages To shame the morning star, On London Nights, not near so chilly, Sampling a shadier Piccadilly.
Satyr and Faun their late repose Now burst like anything; New Maenads, turning sprightlier toes, Enjoy a jauntier fling; With lustier lips old Pan shall play Drain-pipes along the sewer's way.
Priapus, wrongly left for dead, Is dead no more than Pan; Silenus rises from his bed And hiccups like a man; There's something rather chaste (between us) About Priapus and Silenus.
O cease to brew your Bodley pap Whence all the spice is spent! The splendour of its primal tap Was gone when Aubrey went; Behold that subtle Sphinx prepare Fresh liquors fit to lift your hair.
Another Magazine shall rise And paint the palsied town, Of humbler hue, of simpler size, And sold at half a crown; Please note the pregnant brand—Savoy, And don't confuse with saveloy.[*]
[*] Saveloy, a kind of sausage; French cervelas, from its containing brains.—SKEAT.
VII. TO A BOY-POET OF THE DECADENCE.
[Showing curious reversal of epigram—'La nature l'a fait sanglier; la civilisation l'a reduit a l'etat de cochon.']
But my good little man, you have made a mistake If you really are pleased to suppose That the Thames is alight with the lyrics you make; We could all do the same if we chose.
From Solomon down, we may read, as we run, Of the ways of a man and a maid; There is nothing that's new to us under the sun, And certainly not in the shade.
The erotic affairs that you fiddle aloud Are as vulgar as coin of the mint; And you merely distinguish yourself from the crowd By the fact that you put 'em in print.
You're a 'prentice, my boy, in the primitive stage, And you itch, like a boy, to confess: When you know a bit more of the arts of the age You will probably talk a bit less.
For your dull little vices we don't care a fig, It is this that we deeply deplore; You were cast for a common or usual pig, But you play the invincible bore.
VIII. TO JULIA IN SHOOTING TOGS
and a Herrickose vein.
Whenas to shoot my Julia goes, Then, then, (methinks) how bravely shows That rare arrangement of her clothes!
So shod as when the Huntress Maid With thumping buskin bruised the glade, She moveth, making earth afraid.
Against the sting of random chaff Her leathern gaiters circle half The arduous crescent of her calf.
Unto th' occasion timely fit, My love's attire doth show her wit, And of her legs a little bit.
Sorely it sticketh in my throat, She having nowhere to bestow't, To name the absent petticoat.
In lieu whereof a wanton pair Of knickerbockers she doth wear, Full windy and with space to spare.
Enlarged by the bellying breeze, Lord! how they playfully do ease The urgent knocking of her knees!
Lengthways curtailed to her taste A tunic circumvents her waist, And soothly it is passing chaste.
Upon her head she hath a gear Even such as wights of ruddy cheer Do use in stalking of the deer.
Haply her truant tresses mock Some coronal of shapelier block, To wit, the bounding billy-cock.
Withal she hath a loaded gun, Whereat the pheasants, as they run, Do make a fair diversion.
For very awe, if so she shoots, My hair upriseth from the roots, And lo! I tremble in my boots!
IX. THE LINKS OF LOVE.
My heart is like a driver-club, That heaves the pellet hard and straight, That carries every let and rub, The whole performance really great; My heart is like a bulger-head, That whiffles on the wily tee, Because my love has kindly said She'll halve the round of life with me.
My heart is also like a cleek, Resembling most the mashie sort, That spanks the object, so to speak, Across the sandy bar to port; And hers is like a putting-green, The haven where I boast to be, For she assures me she is keen To halve the round of life with me.
Raise me a bunker, if you can, That beetles o'er a deadly ditch, Where any but the bogey-man Is practically bound to pitch; Plant me beneath a hedge of thorn, Or up a figurative tree, What matter, when my love has sworn To halve the round of life with me?
X. SWORDS AND PLOUGHSHARES.
PART I. PRESTO FURIOSO.
Spontaneous Us! O my Camarados! I have no delicatesse as a diplomat, but I go blind on Libertad! Give me the flap-flap of the soaring Eagle's pinions! Give me the tail of the British lion tied in a knot inextricable, not to be solved anyhow! Give me a standing army (I say 'give me,' because just at present we want one badly, armies being often useful in time of war).
I see our superb fleet (I take it that we are to have a superb fleet built almost immediately); I observe the crews prospectively; they are constituted of various nationalities, not necessarily American; I see them sling the slug and chew the plug; I hear the drum begin to hum;
Both the above rhymes are purely accidental and contrary to my principles. We shall wipe the floor of the mill-pond with the scalps of able-bodied British tars! I see Professor Edison about to arrange for us a torpedo-hose on wheels, likewise an infernal electro-semaphore; I see Henry Irving dead-sick and declining to play Corporal Brewster; Cornell, I yell! I yell Cornell!
I note the Manhattan boss leaving his dry-goods store and investing in a small Gatling-gun and a ten-cent banner; I further note the Identity evolved out of forty-four spacious and thoughtful States; I note Canada as shortly to be merged in that Identity; similarly Van Diemen's Land, Gibraltar and Stratford-on-Avon; Briefly, I see Creation whipped!
O ye Colonels! I am with you (I too am a Colonel and on the pension-list); I drink to the lot of you; to Colonels Cleveland, Hitt, Vanderbilt, Chauncey M. Depew, O'Donovan Rossa and the late Colonel Monroe; I drink an egg-flip, a morning-caress, an eye-opener, a maiden-bosom, a vermuth-cocktail, three sherry-cobblers and a gin-sling! Good old Eagle!
PART II. INTERMEZZO DOLOROSO.
[Allowing time for the fall of American securities to the extent of some odd hundred millions sterling; also for the Day of Rest.]
PART III. ANDANTE AMABILE.
Who breathed a word of war? Why, surely we are men and Plymouth brothers! Pray, what in thunder should we cut each other's Carotids for?
Merciful powers forefend! For we by gold-edged bonds are bound alway, Besides a lot of things that never pay A dividend!
Christmas! we cry thee Ave! At such a time, when hearts with love are filled, It seems inopportune for us to build The needful navy.
In fact in many a church Uprise the prayer and supplicating psalm That Heaven would keep our spreading Eagle calm Upon his perch.
Goodwill and peace and plenty! Our leading congregations here agree To vote for this arrangement, nemine Contradicente.
Greatly be they extolled Who occupied the tabernacle-chair And put it to the meeting then and there And passed it solid!
That print has also played A useful part that sent an invitation To Redmond to relieve the situation (Answer prepaid).
Say, Sirs, and shall we sever? And mar the fair exchange of fatted steers, Chicago pig, and eligible peers? No! never, never!
Shall gore be made to flow? Like kindred Sohrabs shall we knock our Rustums, And blast our beautiful McKinley customs? Lord love us! no!
Then, burst the sundering bar! Our punctured pockets yearn across the ocean; Till now we never had the faintest notion How dear you are!
O love of other years! Wall Street, aweary for her broken bliss, Waits like a loving crocodile to kiss Again with tears!
XI. TO THE LORD OF POTSDAM.
[On sending a certain telegram.]
Majestic Monarch! whom the other gods, For fear of their immediate removal, Consulting hourly, seek your awful nod's Approval;
Lift but your little finger up to strike, And lo! 'the massy earth is riven' (Shelley), The habitable globe is shaken like A jelly.
By your express permission for the last Eight years the sun has regularly risen; And editors, that questioned this, have passed To prison.
In Art you simply have to say, "I shall!" Beethoven's fame is rendered transitory; And Titian cloys beside your clever all- -egory.
We hailed you Admiral: your eagle sight Foresaw Her Majesty's benign intentions; A uniform was ready of the right Dimensions.
Your wardrobe shines with all the shapes and shades, That genius can fix in fancy suitings; For levees, false alarums, full parades And shootings.
But save the habit marks the man of gore Your spurs are yet to win, my callow Kaiser! Of fighting in the field you know no more Than I, Sir!
When Grandpapa was thanking God with hymns For gallant Frenchmen dying in the ditches, Your nurse had barely braced your little limbs In breeches.
And doubtless, where he roosts beside his bock, The Game Old Bird that played the leading fiddle Smiles grimly as he hears your perky cock- -a-diddle.
Be well advised, my youthful friend, abjure These tricks that smack of Cleon and the tanners; And let the Dutch instruct a German Boor In manners.
Nor were you meant to solve the nations' knots, Or be the Earth's Protector, willy-nilly; You only make yourself and royal Pots- -dam silly.
Our racing yachts are not at present dressed In bravery of bunting to amuse you, Nor can the licence of an honoured guest Excuse you.
But if your words are more than wanton play And you would like to meet the old sea-rover, Name any course from Delagoa Bay To Dover.
Meanwhile observe a proper reticence; We ask no more; there never was a rumour Of asking Hohenzollerns for a sense Of humour!
XII. FROM THE LORD OF POTSDAM.
We, William, Kaiser, planted on Our throne By heaven's grace, but chiefly by Our own, Do deign to speak. Then let the earth be dumb, And other nations cease their senseless hum! Seldom, if ever, does a chance arise For Us to pose before Our people's eyes; But this is one of them, this natal day Whereon Our Ancient and Imperial sway, Which to the battle's death-defying trump Welded the States in one confounded lump, (As many tasty meats are blent within The German sausage's encircling skin) By Our decree is twenty-five precisely, And, under Us (and God) still doing nicely. Therefore ye Princelings, Plenipotentates, And Representatives of various States, A cool Imperial pint your Kaiser drains, Both to Our 'more immediate' domains, And to Our lands, Our isles beyond the sea, Our World-embracing Greater Germany! Let loose the breathings of Our Royal Band, We give a rouse—hoch! hoch!—to HELGOLAND!
[Kaiserliche Kapelle plays: O Helgoland! mein Helgoland! Air—Die Wacht am Rhein.]
WILLIAM, KAISER, continues:—
There are that languish on this festal day Damned and impounded for lese-majeste; We, William, in Our plentitude of grace, Propose to pardon every hundredth case; And though their sentence was no more than just We offer each a copy of Our bust, With option of a fine; but, be it known, Whoso again shall deem his life his own, Or find in Ours the faintest flaw or fleck, God helping, We will hang him by the neck. Yea, he shall surely curse his impious star That dares to question Who or where We are! Worship your Caesar, and (C.V.) your God; Who spares the child may haply spoil the rod. Many Our uniforms, but We are one, And one Our empire over which the sun, Careering on his cloud-compulsive way, Sets once, but never more than once, a day. The seas are Ours: world-wide upon the oceans Our fleet commands the liveliest emotions; Go where you will, you find Our German manners Prevailing under other people's banners; Go where you will, you cannot but remark The cheap, but never nasty, German clerk; Observe Our exports; do you ever see Things made as they are made in Germany? Always at home on Earth's remotest shores E.g., among Our loved, low-German Boers, Freely Our folk expectorate, and there Our German bands inflame the balmy air; Likewise again Our passionate bassoons Tickle the niggers of the Cameroons; Or others over whom Our Eagle flaps In places not at present on the maps. One more Imperial pint! your Kaiser drinks To German intercourse with missing links! Let loose the breathings of Our Royal Band, We give—hoch! hoch!—Our glorious HINTERLAND!
[Kaiserliche Kapelle plays: O Hinterland! mein Hinterland! (Air as before); during which WILLIAM, KAISER, resumes his throne.]
XIII. 'THE SPACIOUS TIMES.'
[On Drake's return from his filibustering expedition of 1580 the Queen went on board his ship at Deptford, and after partaking of a banquet conferred on him the honour of knighthood, at the same time declaring herself mightily pleased with all that he had done.]
I wish that I had flourished then, When ruffs and raids were in the fashion, When Shakespeare's art and Raleigh's pen Encouraged patriotic passion; For though I draw my happy breath Beneath a Queen as good and gracious, The times of Great Elizabeth Were more conveniently spacious.
Large-hearted age of cakes and ale! When, undeterred by nice conditions, Good Master Drake would lightly sail On little privateer commissions; Careering round with sword and flame And no pretence of polished manners, He planted out in England's name A most refreshing lot of banners.
Blest era, when the reckless tar, Elated by a sense of duty, Feared not to face his country's Bar But freely helped himself to booty; Returning home with bulging hold The Queen would meet him, much excited, Pronounce him worth his weight in gold And promptly have the hero knighted.
No Extra Special, piping hot, Broke out in unexpected Pyrrhics; No Poet Laureate on the spot Composed apologetic lyrics; Transpiring slowly by-and-by, The act was voted one of loyalty; The nation winked the other eye, And pocketed the usual royalty.
Ere Reuter yet had found his range, These trifles done across the ocean Produced upon the Stock Exchange No preternatural emotion; Not yet the Kaiserlich I AM Made winged words and then repented; He wrote as yet no telegram, Nor was, in fact, himself invented.
No Justice Hawkins gauged the fault Of irresponsible incursions; The early Hawkins, gallant salt, Knew well the charm of such diversions; Men never saw that moving sight When legal luminaries muster, And very solemnly indict A well-conducted filibuster.
No Member had the hardy nerve To criticise our depredations As unadapted to preserve The perfect comity of nations; No High Commissioner would doubt If brigandage was quite judicial; Indeed we mostly did without This rather eminent Official.
No Ministry would care a rap For theoretic arbitration; They simply modified the map To meet the latest annexation; And so without appeal to law, Or other needless waste of tissue, The Lion, where he put his paw, Remained and propagated issue.
To-day we wax exceeding fat On lands our roving fathers raided; And blush with holy horror at Their lawless sons who do as they did; No doubt the age improves a lot, It grows more honest, more veracious; But, as I said, the times are not Quite so conveniently spacious.
To the Editors of The World and The National Observer, and to the Proprietors of Punch, I wish to express my thanks for their courtesy in permitting me to republish these verses.
* * * * *
The Battle of the Bays.
Eighth Edition. Price 3s. 6d. net. Fcap. 8vo. Price $1.25.
SOME PRESS OPINIONS.
"The new 'Rejected Addresses' of Mr. Owen Seaman are quite worthy to be ranked with the classic volumes of Horace and James.... The thing is done as well as it could be.... This little volume is merum sal."—The Spectator.
"Mr. Kipling has never been so nimbly caught before, for Mr. Seaman has the art to reproduce his flute-notes as well as his big drum.... Several of the miscellaneous pieces are among the very best humourous poetry of this generation. We have laughed at nothing lately more than at 'Ars Postera,' at 'A New Blue Book,' at 'To a Boy-Poet of the Decadence,' and at 'To Julia in Shooting Togs.' But, after all, Mr. Seaman's masterpiece up to date is certainly 'To the Lord of Potsdam.' ... This will live, or we are greatly mistaken, among the most effective examples of historical satire-lyric."—The Saturday Review.
"It is certainly remarkable, in our dearth of great poetry, how good of its sort the satiric verse of our day is—so good, in fact, that nothing but the best will serve, and even the best, like Mr. Seaman's, which in the day when Sir George Trevelyan was a wit would have taken people's breath away, is apt to be treated as mere journalism.... But really it is the most characteristic expression of our time, using the accustomed forms of verse to point the neatest criticisms and the slyest of epigrams.... Mr. Seaman's humourous imitation of Mr. Swinburne, Sir Edwin Arnold, Sir Lewis Morris, Mr. Kipling, and the rest, is in every case very funny."—St. James's Gazette.
"The book abounds in excellent fooling and really wholesome satire, the ingenuity and felicity of verse and expression giving it likewise a high artistic value.... Quips and cranks of audacious wit, strokes of a humour always sane and healthy, waylay the reader incessantly, and leave him no peace for laughter."—The Westminster Gazette.
"Mr. Seaman must be tired of being compared to Calverley and J. K. S., but he is of their company, and, what is more, on their level. 'The Battle of the Bays' ... bristles with points; it is brilliant, ... and it has that easy conversational flow which is the one absolutely necessary characteristic of good humourous poetry.... One charm of writing such as Mr. Seaman's is that it makes us feel quite obliged to poets whom we have never admired for being so good to parody."—Pall Mall Gazette.
"Mr. Owen Seaman has a very neat talent for parody.... The 'Ballad of a Bun' is exceedingly funny, and ought to make even Mr. John Davidson laugh.... All the imitations are good."—The Times.
"His versatility and bright and ready wit are conspicuous in all his work. As a parodist he is second to none, not even to Mr. Calverley, if we may take the word of the reviewers.... Mr. Seaman cracks the whip with consummate skill, and applies it with such naughty precision, that even his victims must find it difficult to withhold their admiration."—The National Observer.
* * * * *
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Horace at Cambridge
New and Revised Edition. Price 3s. 6d. net. Fcap. 8vo. Price $1.25.
"To every university man ... this book will be a rare treat. But in virtue of its humour, its extreme and felicitous dexterity of workmanship both in rhyme and metre ... it will appeal to a far wider public."—Punch.
"We very cordially recommend Mr. Seaman's book ... to all who are likely to care for verse which is not unworthy to be ranked with the efforts of Calverley the immortal."—The World.
"Mr. Seaman manages his ingenious metres with unfailing skill."—The Athenaeum.
"A genial cynic with a genuine smack of Bon Gaultier."—St. James's Gazette.
"The humour is bright and spontaneous."—The Times.
"Mr. Seaman's book is never slipshod; it has the neatness, the precision, the sparkle of its Latin namesake."—The Spectator.
Tillers of the Sand
SMITH, ELDER & CO., London. 3s. 6d.
"In the political sphere Mr. Seaman is at present without a rival."—The Globe.
"Taken as a whole, we are much mistaken if any better volume of political verse has made its appearance since the days of the Rolliad and the Anti-Jacobin."—The World.
"The best of the satirists on the other side is Mr. Owen Seaman, who has touched off some of the weaknesses of the late government with very happy and caustic humour."—The Spectator.
"Mr. Seaman is own brother to Calverley, and in modern times there has been nothing so good of its sort as 'Tillers of the Sand.'... Mr. Seaman proves himself so brilliant a jester that it needs must be he takes the jester's privilege of offending no one."—The Speaker.
"One of the most accomplished writers of occasional verse to-day."—Bookman.
"It is all so good that passages are hard to choose."—Scotsman.
"The author's rare quality—a capacity for satirizing one's political opponents with a wit that leaves no wound."—Mr. JAMES PAYN in The Illustrated London News.
"Brilliant and inimitable."—Chicago Daily News.
In Cap and Bells
Fifth Edition. Price 3s. 6d. net. Fcap. 8vo. Price $1.25.
"Here is no shouting, no banging of the bauble. The form of phrase, the inflexion of voice, the dancing light of humour, make up the motley which is the true jester's 'only wear'; and under his flashes of merriment is a sober, sound philosophy. This, after all, is the only kind of humour that lasts ... it is easy to appreciate, difficult to acquire; and Mr. Owen Seaman, having acquired it with all the felicity of good humour and art, stands practically alone among the humourists of the hour.... His technical quality seems to strengthen with every new volume."—Mr. ARTHUR WAUGH in The St. James' Gazette.
"Clean laughter, and scholarly wit; polished metre, and humorous phrase—these are to me the essential characteristics for which I am invariably glad to read Mr. Owen Seaman."—Mr. THEODORE COOK in Literature.
"The brilliant author of 'Cap and Bells' assumes, before the eyes of a later generation, the mantle of Crawley, and does the same sort of work more felicitously still."—The Speaker.
"At the end of the volume Mr. Seaman gives agreeable evidence that, in the domain of memorial and complimentary verse, he has the knack of combining felicity of phrase with a wholesome avoidance alike of adulation and excess. The 'In Memoriam' lines to Lewis Carroll, with the graceful reference to Sir John Tenniel, are particularly happy."—The Spectator.
"Calverley had not, or did not show in his verses, Mr. Seaman's critical acuteness and depth.... As a critic in the form of parody, Mr. Seaman is without a rival.... Of his serious poems an ode to Queen Wilhelmina is a very graceful accomplishment of a difficult task."—Mr. G. S. STREET in The Pall Mall Magazine.
"Mr. Seaman is what we may call a critic of mannerisms, and a very keen critic to boot. His is a useful, not a merely destructive, function. He is no wanton debaser of the poetic currency. One might rather call him a touchstone of true merit in poetry."—Daily Chronicle.
"A new volume from the pen of Mr. Owen Seaman must needs be welcome. He is the most accomplished versifier among all our jesters."—The Globe.
"The parodies in Mr. Seaman's new volume are wonderful examples of this difficult art; the Stephen Phillips, the Alfred Austin, the Watts-Dunton, and the George Meredith are faultless."—Academy.
"Mr. Owen Seaman has already made his reputation as, perhaps, the surest modern poet to make you laugh, and the nature of his new collection of copies of verse cannot be better described than by saying that it is well worthy of his hand.... The book is heartsome and delightful all through."—The Scotsman.
"The present vogue of Mr. Owen Seaman's delightful parodies is very great."—Liverpool Courier.
JOHN LANE: The Bodley Head, London & New York.
* * * * *
Typographical inconsistencies have been changed and are listed below.
Hyphenation standardized and is also listed below.
Archaic and variable spelling is preserved.
Author's punctuation style is preserved, including some hyphenated words that are integral to a poem.
Passages in italics indicated by underscores.
Passages in bold indicated by equal signs.
The following changes were made to the original text:
Page 22: Was 'bellettrist' ('Heed not belletrist jargon.')
Page 45: Was 'lachrimal' (Year that has painfully tickled the lachrymal nerves of the Muses)
Page 84: Added semi-colon after 'Pyrrhics' (Broke out in unexpected Pyrrhics;)
Page 88: Was 'applys' and 'precison' (Mr. Seaman cracks the whip with consummate skill, and applies it with such naughty precision, that even his victims must find it difficult to withhold their admiration.)
Page 89: Changed to single quotes (in modern times there has been nothing so good of its sort as 'Tillers of the Sand.')
Advertisements: Changed to single quotes (the dancing light of humour, make up the motley which is the true jester's 'only wear'; and under his flashes of merriment is a sober, sound philosophy.)
Advertisements: Was 'Arthuh' (His technical quality seems to strengthen with every new volume."—Mr. ARTHUR WAUGH in The St. James' Gazette.)