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Richard Harris Barham

(1788-1845 / England)

Ode on a nearer prospect of summer hill


O Summer Hill! if thou wert mine,
I'd order in a pipe of wine,
And ask a dozen friends to dine.
In faith, I would not spare the guineas,
But send for Pag and other ninies,
Flutes, hautboys, fiddles, pipes, and tabors,
Hussars with moustaches and sabres,
Quadrilles, and that grand waltz of Weber's,
And give a dance to all my neighbours;
And here I'd sit and quaff my fill
Among the trees of Summer Hill.
Then with bland eye careering slowly,
O'er bush-crowned ridge end valley lowly;
I'd drain the cup to thee, old Rowley!
To thee, and to thy courtly train,
Once tenants of thy fair domain;
Soft Stewart, haughtiest Castlemaine,
Pert Nelly Gwynne, and Lucy Waters,
Old England's fairest, frailest daughters.
E'en now, 'midst yonder leafy glade,
Methinks I see thy Royal shade
In amplitude of wig arrayed;
Near thee thy rival in peruke,
Stands Buckingham, uproarious Duke,
With Tony Hamilton and Killegrew;
And Wilmot, that sad rake till ill he grew,
When to amend his life and turn it
He promised pious Doctor Burnet;
In time let's hope to make old Nicholas
Lose all his pains, and look ridiculous!

Alexander! loftier far
Now culminates thy happier star
Than his of old, my ancient crony,
Thy namesake erst of Macedony,
Unrivalled, save, perhaps, by Boney.
Oh! happier far in thy degree
Art thou, although a conqueror he,
While thou art but an ex-M.P.
Yea, far more blessed my Alexander,
Art thou than that deceas'd commander;
Much though his name be honour'd, Fate,
Making thee Lord of this estate,
Dubbed thee in verity 'The Great.'
Thou ne'er wert led through wanton revelling,
These sylvan scenes to play the devil in;
In these sweet shades so praised by Grammont,
Thou didst not call thyself 'Young Ammon.'
And I, for one, wouldst thou invite us,
Would never fear the fate of Clytus.

No lady of too easy virtue
E'er made you think enough to hurt you,
And then with recklessness amazing,
Bade you set house and all a-blazing.
('Tis hard to say which works the quicker,
To make folks blockheads, love or liquor.
But oh! it is an awful thing,
When both combine to make a king
Descend to play the part of Swing!)
Another world, thou dost not sigh
To conquer, much less pipe thine eye,
I dare be sworn -- no! Alexander,
Thou art not half as great a gander:
This is thy globe -- here toujours gai
Thy motto still, though, well-a-day,
Sarum be popp'd in schedule A.

O Summer, Summer, Summer Hill,
Fain would I gaze and linger still;
But see the moon her silver lamp
Uprears, the grass is getting damp.
And hark! the curfew's parting knell
Is toll'd by Doctor Knox's bell!
I go to join my wife and daughters,
Drinking these nasty-flavoured waters.
O Summer Hill! I must repine,
Thou art not, never will be mine
-- I have not even got the wine.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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