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Phantasmagoria and Other Poems from Lewis Carroll

Echoes

LADY Clara Vere de Vere
Was eight years old, she said:
Every ringlet, lightly shaken, ran itself in golden thread.

She took her little porringer:
Of me she shall not win renown:
For the baseness of its nature shall have strength to drag her down.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid?
There stands the Inspector at thy door:
Like a dog, he hunts for boys who know not two and two are four."

"Kind words are more than coronets,"
She said, and wondering looked at me:
"It is the dead unhappy night, and I must hurry home to tea."

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Ye Caroette Knyghte

I have a horse - a ryghte good horse -
Ne doe Y envye those
Who scoure ye playne yn headye course
Tyll soddayne on theyre nose
They lyghte wyth unexpected force
Yt ys - a horse of clothes.

I have a saddel - "Say'st thou soe?
Wyth styrruppes, Knyghte, to boote?"
I sayde not that - I answere "Noe" -
Yt lacketh such, I woote:
Yt ys a mutton-saddel, loe!
Parte of ye fleecye brute.

I have a bytte - a ryghte good bytte -
As shall bee seene yn tyme.
Ye jawe of horse yt wyll not fytte;
Yts use ys more sublyme.
Fayre Syr, how deemest thou of yt?
Yt ys - thys bytte of rhyme.

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A Game of Fives

Five little girls, of Five, Four, Three, Two, One:
Rolling on the hearthrug, full of tricks and fun.

Five rosy girls, in years from Ten to Six:
Sitting down to lessons - no more time for tricks.

Five growing girls, from Fifteen to Eleven:
Music, Drawing, Languages, and food enough for seven!

Five winsome girls, from Twenty to Sixteen:
Each young man that calls, I say "Now tell me which you mean!"

Five dashing girls, the youngest Twenty-one:
But, if nobody proposes, what is there to be done?

Five showy girls - but Thirty is an age
When girls may be engaging, but they somehow don't engage.

Five dressy girls, of Thirty-one or more:
So gracious to the shy young men they snubbed so much before!

[...] Read more

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A Valentine

And cannot pleasures, while they last,
Be actual unless, when past,
They leave us shuddering and aghast,
With anguish smarting?
And cannot friends be firm and fast,
And yet bear parting?

And must I then, at Friendship's call,
Calmly resign the little all
(Trifling, I grant, it is and small)
I have of gladness,
And lend my being to the thrall
Of gloom and sadness?

And think you that I should be dumb,
And full DOLORUM OMNIUM,
Excepting when YOU choose to come
And share my dinner?
At other times be sour and glum
And daily thinner?

[...] Read more

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Atalanta in Camden-Town

AY, 'twas here, on this spot,
In that summer of yore,
Atalanta did not
Vote my presence a bore,
Nor reply to my tenderest talk "She had
heard all that nonsense before."

She'd the brooch I had bought
And the necklace and sash on,
And her heart, as I thought,
Was alive to my passion;
And she'd done up her hair in the style that
the Empress had brought into fashion.

I had been to the play
With my pearl of a Peri -
But, for all I could say,
She declared she was weary,
That "the place was so crowded and hot, and
she couldn't abide that Dundreary."

[...] Read more

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Size and Tears

WHEN on the sandy shore I sit,
Beside the salt sea-wave,
And fall into a weeping fit
Because I dare not shave -
A little whisper at my ear
Enquires the reason of my fear.

I answer "If that ruffian Jones
Should recognise me here,
He'd bellow out my name in tones
Offensive to the ear:
He chaffs me so on being stout
(A thing that always puts me out)."

Ah me! I see him on the cliff!
Farewell, farewell to hope,
If he should look this way, and if
He's got his telescope!
To whatsoever place I flee,
My odious rival follows me!

[...] Read more

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A Sea Dirge

THERE are certain things - as, a spider, a ghost,
The income-tax, gout, an umbrella for three -
That I hate, but the thing that I hate the most
Is a thing they call the Sea.

Pour some salt water over the floor -
Ugly I'm sure you'll allow it to be:
Suppose it extended a mile or more,
THAT'S very like the Sea.

Beat a dog till it howls outright -
Cruel, but all very well for a spree:
Suppose that he did so day and night,
THAT would be like the Sea.

I had a vision of nursery-maids;
Tens of thousands passed by me -
All leading children with wooden spades,
And this was by the Sea.

[...] Read more

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Fame's Penny Trumpet

Affectionately dedicated to all original researchers who pant for endowment.

BLOW, blow your trumpets till they crack,
Ye little men of little souls!
And bid them huddle at your back -
Gold-sucking leeches, shoals on shoals!

Fill all the air with hungry wails -
"Reward us, ere we think or write!
Without your Gold mere Knowledge fails
To sate the swinish appetite!"

And, where great Plato paced serene,
Or Newton paused with wistful eye,
Rush to the chace with hoofs unclean
And Babel-clamour of the sty

Be yours the pay: be theirs the praise:
We will not rob them of their due,
Nor vex the ghosts of other days

[...] Read more

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Melancholetta

WITH saddest music all day long
She soothed her secret sorrow:
At night she sighed "I fear 'twas wrong
Such cheerful words to borrow.
Dearest, a sweeter, sadder song
I'll sing to thee to-morrow."

I thanked her, but I could not say
That I was glad to hear it:
I left the house at break of day,
And did not venture near it
Till time, I hoped, had worn away
Her grief, for nought could cheer it!

My dismal sister! Couldst thou know
The wretched home thou keepest!
Thy brother, drowned in daily woe,
Is thankful when thou sleepest;
For if I laugh, however low,
When thou'rt awake, thou weepest!

[...] Read more

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Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur

"How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once 'the very wish
Partook of the sublime.'
Then tell me how! Don't put me off
With your 'another time'!"

The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
Enthusiastically;
And thought "There's no hum-drum in him,
Nor any shilly-shally."

"And would you be a poet
Before you've been to school?
Ah, well! I hardly thought you
So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic -
A very simple rule.

[...] Read more

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