Charles Stuart Calverley

(22 December 1831 – 17 February 1884 / Martley, Worchestershire)

Dirge


'Dr. Birch's young friends will reassemble to-day, Feb. 1st.'

White is the wold, and ghostly
The dank and leafless trees;
And 'M's and 'N's are mostly
Pronounced like 'B's and 'D's:
'Neath bleak sheds, ice-encrusted,
The sheep stands, mute and stolid:
And ducks find out, disgusted,
That all the ponds are solid.

Many a stout steer's work is
(At least in this world) finished;
The gross amount of turkies
Is sensibly diminished:
The holly-boughs are faded,
The painted crackers gone;
Would I could write, as Gray did,
An Elegy thereon!

For Christmas-time is ended:
Now is 'our youth' regaining
Those sweet spots where are 'blended
Home-comforts and school-training.'
Now they're, I dare say, venting
Their grief in transient sobs,
And I am 'left lamenting'
At home, with Mrs. Dobbs.

O Posthumus! 'Fugaces
Labuntur anni' still;
Time robs us of our graces,
Evade him as we will.
We were the twins of Siam:
Now SHE thinks ME a bore,
And I admit that _I_ am
Inclined at times to snore.

I was her own Nathaniel;
With her I took sweet counsel,
Brought seed-cake for her spaniel,
And kept her bird in groundsel:
We've murmured, 'How delightful
A landscape, seen by night, is,' -
And woke next day in frightful
Pain from acute bronchitis.

* * *

But ah! for them, whose laughter
We heard last New Year's Day, -
(They reeked not of Hereafter,
Or what the Doctor'd say,) -
For those small forms that fluttered
Moth-like around the plate,
When Sally brought the buttered
Buns in at half-past eight!

Ah for the altered visage
Of her, our tiny Belle,
Whom my boy Gus (at his age!)
Said was a 'deuced swell!'
P'raps now Miss Tickler's tocsin
Has caged that pert young linnet;
Old Birch perhaps is boxing
My Gus's ears this minute.

Yet, though your young ears be as
Red as mamma's geraniums,
Yet grieve not! Thus ideas
Pass into infant craniums.
Use not complaints unseemly;
Tho' you must work like bricks;
And it IS cold, extremely,
Rising at half-past six.

Soon sunnier will the day grow,
And the east wind not blow so;
Soon, as of yore, L'Allegro
Succeed Il Penseroso:
Stick to your Magnall's Questions
And Long Division sums;
And come--with good digestions -
Home when next Christmas comes.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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