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As oft beyond thy curving side
Its jetty tip is seen to glide;
Till, from thy centre starting fair,
Thou sidelong rear’st, with rump in air,
Erected stiff, and gait awry,
Like madam in her tantrums high:
Though ne'er a madam of them all,
Whose silken kirtle sweeps the hall,
More varied trick and whim displays,
To catch the admiring stranger's gaze.
And oft, beneath some urchin's hand, With modest pride, thou tak’st thy stand, While many a stroke of fondness glides Along thy back and tabby sides. Dilated swells thy glossy fur, And loudly sings thy busy pur, As, timing well the equal sound, Thy clutching feet bepat the ground, And all their harmless claws disclose, Like prickles of an early rose; While softly from thy whiskered cheek Thy half-closed eyes peer mild and meek.
But not alone by cottage-fire Do rustics rude thy feats admire: The learned sage, whose thoughts explore The widest range of human lore, Or with unfettered fancy fly Through airy heights of poesy, Pausing, smiles with altered air, To see thee climb his elbow-chair, Or, struggling on the mat below, Hold warfare with his slippered toe. The widowed dame, or lonely maid, Who in the still, but cheerless shade Of home unsocial, spends her age, And rarely turns a lettered page; Upon her hearth for thee lets fall The rounded cork, or paper ball,
Nor chides thee on thy wicked watch
The ends of ravelled skein to catch,
But lets thee have thy wayward will,
Perplexing oft her sober skill.
Whence hast thou, then, thou witless Puss,
The magic power to charm us thus ?
Is it, that in thy glaring eye
And rapid movements we descry,
While we at ease, secure from ill,
The chimney-corner snugly fill,
A lion darting on the prey,
A tiger at his ruthless play ?
Or is it, that in thee we trace,
With all thy varied wanton grace,
An emblem, viewed with kindred eye,
Of tricksy, restless infancy?
Ah! many a lightly sportive child,
Who hath, like thee, our wits beguiled,
To dull and sober manhood grown,
With strange recoil our hearts disown.
Even so, poor Kit! must thou endure,
When thou becom'st a cat demure,
Full many a cuff and angry word,
Chid roughly from the tempting board.
And yet, for that thou hast, I ween,
So oft our favoured playmate been,
Soft be the change which thou shalt prove,
When time hath spoiled thee of our love;
Still be thou deemed, by housewife fat,
A comely, careful, mousing cat,
Whose dish is, for the public good,
Replenished oft with savoury food.
Nor, when thy span of life is past,
Be thou to pond or dunghill cast;
But, gently borne on good man's spade,
Beneath the decent sod be laid,
And children show, with glistening eyes,
The place where poor old Pussy lies.
HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM GHENT TO AIX.
I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three. “Good speed !” cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew; “Speed !" echoed the wall to us galloping through. Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest, And into the midnight we galloped abreast.
Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
I turned in my saddle and made its girth tight,
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.
'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see ;
At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mechlin church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
So Joris broke silence with, “Yet there is time!"
At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past;
And I saw my stout galloper, Roland, at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray;
And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence--ever that glance
O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance !
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.
By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay spur!
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her,
We'll remember at Aix” –for one heard the quick wheese
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck, and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.
So we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Loos and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky:
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
'Neath our foot broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-tower sprang white,
And “Gallop,” cried Joris, "for Aix is in sight!
How they'll greet us!” and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets' rim.
Then I cast off my loose buff-coat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood !
And all I remember is friends flocking round
As I sate with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from
WAEN I was here, three years ago,
This grave was not yet made;
And the fearless boy who sleeps below,
About the village played.
I think his mother loved him best
. Of all her orphan crew;
And while she worked for all the rest,
She thought, poor Jack! of you.
· He was a boy of lively parts,
And full of frolic glee ;
And merry were the children's hearts
When Jack came home from sea.
But Heaven reclaimed the gifts it lent,
· And tried his soul with pains;
The dread command on earth was sent,
And fever scorched his veins.
His sun-burnt cheek grew wan and pale,
His bright black eye grew dim; He grew too weak his boat to sail
Down by the river's brim; And first, impatiently, he said,
“I wish the wind blew free Upon my face and round my bed
Oh, that I were a sea!”
But soon he felt that never more,
(Though she was not a wreck,) That white-sailed ship should leave the shore,
And he be on her deck.
He took his mother's hand in his,
And heaved a bitter sigh:
“Mother," said he, “I feel it is
God's will that I should die !
Remember me to all I loved,
And those were all I knew;
For all to me have kindness proved,
The captain and the crew.
Tell them, that, faint, and weak, and ill,
And sinking in the grave,
I thought upon my messmates still,
My brothers of the wave!