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HOW IT STRIKES A CONTEMPORARY.
I ONLY knew one poet in
my And this, or something like it, was his way.
You saw go up and down Valladolid,
A man of mark, to know next time you saw.
serviceable suit of black
Was courtly once and conscientious still,
And many might have worn it, though none did :
The cloak, that somewhat shone and showed the threads,
Had purpose, and the ruff, significance.
He walked, and tapped the pavement with his cane,
Scenting the world, looking it full in face :
An old dog, bald and blindish, at his heels.
They turned up, now, the alley by the church,
That leads no whither; now, they breathed themselves
On the main promenade just at the wrong time.
You'd come upon his scrutinizing hat,
Making a peaked shade blacker than itself
Against the single window spared some house
Intact yet with its mouldered Moorish work, –
Or else surprise the ferrel of his stick
Trying the mortar's temper 'tween the chinks
Of some new shop a-building, French and fine.
He stood and watched the cobbler at his trade,
The man who slices lemons into drink,
The coffee-roaster's brazier, and the boys.
That volunteer to help him turn its winch.
He glanced o'er books on stalls with half an eye,
And fly-leaf ballads on the vendor's string,
And broad-edge bold-print posters by the wall.
He took such cognisance of men and things,
If any beat a horse, you felt he saw ;
If any cursed a woman, he took note ;
Yet stared at nobody,-you stared at him,
And found, less to your pleasure than surprise,
He seemed to know you and expect as much.
So, next time that a neighbour's tongue was loosed,
It marked the shameful and notorious fact
We had among us, not so much a spy,
As a recording chief-inquisitor,
The town's true master if the town but knew !
We merely kept a governor for form,
While this man walked about and took account
Of all thought, said and acted, then went home,
And wrote it fully to our Lord the King
Who has an itch to know things, he knows why,
And reads them in his bed-room of a night.
Oh, you might smile! there wanted not a touch,
A tang of . . . well, it was not wholly ease,
As back into your mind the man's look came.
Strick in years a little, such a brow
His eyes had to live under !-clear as flint
On either side o' the formidable nose
Curved, cut and coloured like an eagle's claw.
Had he to do with A.'s surprising fate?
When altogether old B. disappeared
And young C. got his mistress, -was 't our friend,
His letter to the King, that did it all ?
What paid the bloodless man for so much pains ?
Our Lord the King has favourites manifold,
And shifts his ministry some once a month ;
Our city gets new governors at whiles,-
But never word or sign, that I could hear,
Notified, to this man about the streets,
The King's approval of those letters conned
The last thing duly at the dead of night.
Did the man love his office? Frowned our Lord,
Exhorting when none heard—“Beseech me not!
“ Too far above my people,-beneath me!
“ I set the watch,-how should the people know ?
Forget them, keep me all the more in mind ! ”
Was some such understanding 'twixt the two ?
I found no truth in one report at leastThat if
tracked him to his home, down lanes Beyond the Jewry, and as clean to pace, You found he ate his supper in a room Blazing with lights, four Titians on the wall, And twenty naked girls to change his plate ! Poor man, he lived another kind of life In that new stuccoed third house by the bridge, Fresh-painted, rather smart than otherwise ! The whole street might o'erlook him as he sat, Leg crossing leg, one foot on the dog's back, Playing a decent cribbage with his maid (Jacynth, you 're sure her name was) o'er the cheese
And fruit, three red halves of starved winter-pears,
Or treat of radishes in April. Nine,
Ten, struck the church clock, straight to bed went he.
My father, like the man of sense he was,
Would point him out to me a dozen times;
“St-St," he'd whisper, "the Corregidor !"
I had been used to think that personage
Was one with lacquered breeches, lustrous belt,
And feathers like a forest in his hat,
Who blew a trumpet and proclaimed the news,
Announced the bull-fights, gave each church its turn,
And memorized the miracle in vogue !
He had a great observance from us boys;
We were in error ; that was not the man.
I'd like now, yet had haply been afraid, To have just looked, when this man came to die, And seen who lined the clean gay garret sides, And stood about the neat low truckle-bed, With the heavenly manner of relieving guard. Here had been, mark, the general-in-chief, Thro' a whole campaign of the world's life and death, Doing the King's work all the dim day long, In his old coat and up to knees in mud, Smoked like a herring, dining on a crust, And, now the day was won, relieved at once ! No further show or need of that old coat, You are sure, for one thing! Bless us, all the while How sprucely we are dressed out, you and I ! A second, and the angels alter that. Well, I could never write a verse,—could you ? Let's to the Prado and inake the most of time.
AMONG these latter busts we count by scores,
Half-emperors and quarter-emperors,
Each with his bay-leaf fillet, loose-thonged vest,
Loric and low-browed Gorgon on the breast,
One loves a baby face, with violets there,
Violets instead of laurel in the hair,
As those were all the little locks could bear.
Now read here. “ Protus ends a period
“Of empery beginning with a god;
“ Born in the porphyry chamber at Byzant,
Queens by his cradle, proud and ministrant : “And if he quickened breath there, 't would like fire
Pantingly through the dim vast realm transpire. “A fame that he was missing, spread afar : 6. The world, from its four corners, rose in war, “ Till he was borne out on a balcony “ To pacify the world when it should see. “ The captains ranged before him, one, his hand “ Made baby points at, gained the chief command. “ And day by day more beautiful he grew " In shape, all said, in feature and in hue,