Whispered Into Afternoon

Sun of autumn, thin and shy
And fruit drops off the trees,
Blue silence fills the peace
Of a tardy afternoon’s sky.

Death knells forged of metal,
And a white beast hits the mire.
Brown lasses uncouth choir
Dies in leaves’ drifting prattle.

Brow of God dreams of hues,
Senses madness’ gentle wings.
Round the hill wield in rings
Black decay and shaded views.

Rest and wine in sunset’s gleam,
Sad guitars drizzle into night,
And to the mellow lamp inside
You turn in as in a dream.

The Song of the Borderguard

The man with his lion under the shed of wars
sheds his belief as if he shed tears.
The sound of words waits -
a barbarian host at the borderline of sense.

The enamord guards desert their posts
harkening to the lion-smell of a poem
that rings in their ears.

-Dreams, a certain guard said
were never designd so
to re-arrange an empire.

Along about six o'clock I take out my guitar
and sing to a lion
who sleeps like a line of poetry
in the shed of wars.

The Old Guitar

Neglected now is the old guitar
And moldering into decay;
Fretted with many a rift and scar
That the dull dust hides away,
While the spider spins a silver star
In its silent lips to-day.

The keys hold only nerveless strings--
The sinews of brave old airs
Are pulseless now; and the scarf that clings
So closely here declares
A sad regret in its ravelings
And the faded hue it wears.

The Ballad Of How Macpherson Held The Floor

Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes."
"Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall. "The young folk of to-day
Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew,
To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak:

The Bagman's Dog, Mr. Peters's Story

Stant littore Puppies!-- Virgil.

It was a litter, a litter of five,
Four are drown'd and one left alive,
He was thought worthy alone to survive;
And the Bagman resolved upon bringing him up,
To eat of his bread, and to drink of his cup,
He was such a dear little cock-tail'd pup.

Song of the Guitar

In the tenth year of Yuanhe I was banished and demoted to be assistant official in Jiujiang. In the summer of the next year I was seeing a friend leave Penpu and heard in the midnight from a neighbouring boat a guitar played in the manner of the capital. Upon inquiry, I found that the player had formerly been a dancing-girl there and in her maturity had been married to a merchant. I invited her to my boat to have her play for us. She told me her story, heyday and then unhappiness.

Seville

My Pa and Ma their honeymoon
Passed in an Andulasian June,
And though produced in Drury Lane,
I must have been conceived in Spain.
Now having lapsed from fair estate,
A coster's is my sorry fate;
Yet on my barrow lo! I wheel
The golden harvest of Saville.

"Sweet Spanish oranges!" I cry.
Ah! People deem not as they buy,
That in a dream a steel guitar
I strum beside the Alcázar,
And at the Miralda I meet
A signorita honey sweet,
And stroll beneath the silver moon
Like Pa and Ma that magic June.

Room 6 The Little Workgirl

Three gentlemen live close beside me --
A painter of pictures bizarre,
A poet whose virtues might guide me,
A singer who plays the guitar;
And there on my lintel is Cupid;
I leave my door open, and yet
These gentlemen, aren't they stupid!
They never make love to Babette.

Room 5 The Concert Singer

I'm one of these haphazard chaps
Who sit in cafes drinking;
A most improper taste, perhaps,
Yet pleasant, to my thinking.
For, oh, I hate discord and strife;
I'm sadly, weakly human;
And I do think the best of life
Is wine and song and woman.

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