In Divers Tones

by Charles G.D. Roberts

Edited by Tracy Ware


 

THE POET IS BIDDEN TO MANHATTAN ISLAND


 

Dear Poet, quit your shady lanes
   And come where more than lanes are shady.
Leave Phyllis to the rustic swains
   And sing some Knickerbocker lady.
O hither haste, and here devise
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   Divine ballades before unuttered.
Your poet’s eyes must recognize
   The side on which your bread is buttered!

Dream not I tempt you to forswear
   One pastoral joy, or rural frolic.

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I call you to a city where
   The most urbane are most bucolic.
’Twill charm your poet’s eyes to find
   Good husbandmen in brokers burly;—
Their stock is ever on their mind;
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   To water it they rise up early.

Things you have sung, but ah, not seen—
   Things proper to the age of Saturn—
Shall greet you here; for we have been
   Wrought quaintly, on the Arcadian pattern.

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Your poet’s lips will break in song
   For joy, to see at last appearing
The bulls and bears, a peaceful throng,
   While a lamb leads them—to the shearing!

And metamorphoses, of course,
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   You’ll mark in plenty, á la Proteus:
A bear become a little horse—
   Presumably from too much throat-use!
A thousandfold must go untold;
   But, should you miss your farm-yard sunny,
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And miss your ducks and drakes, behold
   We’ll make you ducks and drakes—of money!

Greengrocers here are fairly read.
   And should you set your heart upon them,
We lack not beets—but some are dead,

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   While others have policemen on them.
And be the dewfall dear to you,
   Possess your poet’s soul in patience!
Your notes shall soon be falling dew,—
   Most mystical of transformations!
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Your heart, dear Poet, surely yields;
   And soon you’ll leave your uplands flowery,
Forsaking fresh and bowery fields,
   For “pastures new”—upon the Bowery!
You’ve piped at home, where none could pay,
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   Till now, I trust, your wits are riper.
Make no delay, but come this way,
   And pipe for them that pay the piper!