James Kenneth Stephen

(25 February 1859 – 3 February 1892 / England)

The Ballade of the Incompetent Ballade-Monger


I am not ambitious at all:
I am not a poet, I know
(Though I do love to see a mere scrawl
To order and symmetry grow).
My muse is uncertain and slow,
I am not expert with my tools,
I lack the poetic argot:
But I hope I have kept to the rules.

When your brain is undoubtedly small,
'Tis hard, sir, to write in a row,
Some five or six rhymes to Nepaul,
And more than a dozen to Joe:
The metre is easier though,
Three rhymes are sufficient for 'ghouls,'
My lines are deficient in go,
But I hope I have kept to the rules.

Unable to fly let me crawl,
Your patronage kindly bestow:
I am not the author of Saul,
I am not Voltaire or Rousseau:
I am not desirous, oh no!
To rise from the ranks of the fools,
To shine with Gosse, Dobson and Co.:
But I hope I have kept to the rules.

Dear Sir, though my language is low,
Let me dip in Pierian pools:
My verses are only so so,
But I hope I have kept to the rules.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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