Luxus tumultus semper causa est.
Lucullus Languish, student of the skies,
And connoisseur of
rarebits and mince pies,
A bard by choice, a grocer's clerk by trade,
(Grown pessimist through honours long delay'd)
A secret yearning
bore, that he might shine
In breathing numbers, and in song divine.
Each day his fountain pen was wont to drop
An ode or dirge or two
about the shop,
Yet naught could strike the chord within his heart
That throbb'd for poesy, and cry'd for art.
Each eve he sought his
bashful Muse to wake
With overdoses of ice cream and cake,
though th'ambitious youth a dreamer grew,
Th' Aonian Nymph delcin'd to
come to view.
Something at dusk he scour'd the heav'ns afar
raptures in the evening star;
One night he strove to catch a tale
In crystal deeps - but only caught a cold.
Lucullus with his lofty woe,
Till one drear day he bought a set of
Charm'd with the cheerful horrors there display's,
with gloom to woo the Heav'nly Maid.
Of Auber's Tarn and Yaanek's
slope he dreams,
And weaves an hundred Ravens in his schemes.
far from our young hero's peaceful home,
Lies the fair grove wherein
he loves to roam.
Though but a stunted copse in vacant lot,
dubs it Temp-e, and adores the spot;
When shallow puddles dot the
And brim o'er muddy banks with muddy rain,
them limpid lakes or poison pools,
(Depending on which bard his fancy
'Tis here he comes with Heliconian fire
On Sundays when he
smites the Attic lyre;
And here one afternoon he brought his gloom,
Resolv'd to chant a poet's lay of doom.
Roget's Thesaurus, and a
book of rhymes,
Provide the rungs whereon his spirit climbs:
this grave retinue he trod the grove
And pray'd the Fauns he might a
But sad to tell, ere Pegasus flew high,
unrelish'd supper hour drew nigh;
Our tuneful swain th'imperious call
And soon above the groaning table bends.
Though it were
too prosaic to relate
Th' exact particulars of what he ate,
long-drawn lists the hasty reader skips,
Like Homer's well-known
catalogue of ships)
This much we swear: that as adjournment near'd,
A monstrous lot of cake had disappear'd!
Soon to his chamber the
young bard repairs,
And courts soft Somnus with sweet Lydian airs;
Through open casement scans the star-strown deep,
Orion's beams sinks off to sleep.
Now start from airy dell the elfin train
That dance each midnight
o'er the sleeping plain,
To bless the just, or cast a warning spell
On those who dine not wisely, but too well.
First Deacon Smith
they plague, whose nasal glow
Comes from what Holmes hath call'd
Group'd round the couch his visage they deride,
Whilst through his dreams unnumber'd serpents glide.
the little folk into the room
Where snore our young Endymion, swath'd
A smile lights up his boyish face, whilst he
the moon - or what he ate at tea.
The chieftain elf th' unconscious
and on his form a strange enchantment lays:
lips, that lately trill'd with frosted cake,
Uneasy sounds in
slumbrous fashion make;
At length their owner's fancies they rehearse,
And lisp this awesome Poe-em in blank verse:
Omnia risus et omnia pulvis et omnia nihil.
Demoniac clouds, up-pil'd in chasmy reach
Of soundless heav'n,
smother'd the brooding night;
Nor came the wonted whisp'rings of the
Nor voice of autumn wind along the moor,
noises of th' insomnious grove
Whose black recesses never saw the sun.
Within that grove a hideous hollow lies,
Half bare of trees; a
pool in centre lurks
That none dares sound; a tarn of murky face,
(Though naught can prove its hue, since light of day,
shuns the forest-shadow's banks.)
Hard by, a yawning hillside grotto
From deeps unvisited, a dull, dank air
That sears the
leaves on certain stunted trees
Which stand about, clawing the
With evil boughs. To this accursed dell
woodland creatures, seldom to depart:
Once I behold, upon a crumbling
Set altar-like before the cave, a thing
I saw not clearly,
yet from glimpsing, fled.
In this half-dusk I meditate alone
many a weary noontide, when without
A world forgets me in its
Here howls by night the werewolves, and the souls
Of those that knew me well in other days.
Yet on this night the
grove spake not to me;
Nor spake the swamp, nor wind along the moor
Nor moan'd the wind about the lonely eaves
Of the bleak, haunted
pile wherein I lay.
I was afraid to sleep, or quench the spark
the low-burning taper by my couch.
I was afraid when through the
Of the old tow'r, the clock-ticks died away
silence so profound and chill
That my teeth chatter'd - giving yet no
Then flicker'd low the light, and all dissolv'd
floating in the hellish grasp
Of body'd blackness, from whose beating
Came ghoulish blasts of charnel-scented mist.
unseen, unfashion'd, and unnam'd
Jostled each other in the seething
That gap'd, chaotic, downward to a sea
Of speechless horror,
foul with writhing thoughts.
All this I felt, and felt the mocking
Of the curs's universe upon my soul;
Yet naught I saw nor
heard, till flash'd a beam
Of lurid lustre through the rotting
Playing on scenes I labour'd not to see.
nameless tarn, alight at last,
Reflected shapes, and more reveal'd
Those shocking depths that ne'er were seen before;
Methought from out the cave a demon train,
Grinning and smirking,
reel'd in fiendish rout;
Bearing within their reeking paws a load
Of carrion viands for an impious feast.
Methought the stunted
trees with hungry arms
Grop'd greedily for things I dare not name;
The while a stifling, wraith-like noisomeness
Fill'd all the dale,
and spoke a larger life
Of uncorporeal hideousness awake
half-sentient wholeness of the spot.
Now glow'd the ground, and tarn,
and cave, and trees,
And moving forms, and things not spoken of,
With such a phosphorescence as men glimpse
In the putrescent
thickets of the swamp
Where logs decaying lie, and rankness reigns.
Methought a fire-mist drap'd with lucent fold
features of the grove,
Whilst whirling ether bore in eddying streams
The hot, unfinish'd stuff of nascent worlds
Hither and thither
Of light and darkness, strangely intermix'd;
Wherein all entity had consciousness,
Without th' accustom'd
outward shape of life.
Of these swift circling currents was my soul,
Free from the flesh, a true constituent part;
Nor felt I less
myself, for want of form.
Then clear'd the mist, and o'er a
Divine and measureless, I gaz'd in awe.
space, I view'd a feeble fleck
Of silvern light, marking the narrow
Which mortals call the boundless universe.
On ev'ry side, each
as a tiny star,
Shone more creations, vaster than our own,
teeming with unnumber'd forms of life;
Though we as life would
recognize it not,
Being bound to earthy thoughts of human mould.
As on a moonless night the Milky Way
In solid sheen displays its
To weak terrestrial eyes, each orb a sun;
the prospect on my wond'ring soul;
A spangled curtain, rich with
Yet each a mighty universe of suns.
But as I
gaz'd, I sens'd a spirit voice
In speech didactic, though no voice it
Save as it carried thought. It bade me mark
That all the
universes in my view
Form'd but an atom in infinity;
pass the ether-laden realms
Of heat and light, extending to far fields
Where flourish worlds invisible and vague,
Fill'd with strange
wisdom and uncanny life,
And yet beyond; to myriad spheres of light,
To spheres of darkness, to abysmal voids
That know the pulses of
Big with these musings, I survey'd the surge
boundless being, yet I us'd not eyes,
For spirit leans not on the
props of sense.
The docent presence swell'd my strength of soul;
All things I knew, but knew with mind alone.
Time's endless vista
spread before my thought
With its vast pageant of unceasing change
And sempiternal strife of force and will;
I saw the ages flow in
Past rise and fall of universe and life;
I saw the
birth of suns and worlds, their death,
Their transmutation into limpid
Their second birth and second death, their course
through the aeons' termless flight,
Never the same, yet born again to
The varying purpose of omnipotence.
And whilst I watch'd, I
knew each second's space
Was greater than the lifetime of our world.
Then turn'd my musings to that speck of dust
Whereon my form
corporeal took its rise;
That speck, born but a second, which must die
In one brief second more; that fragile earth;
experiment; that cosmic sport
Which holds our proud, aspiring race of
And moral vermin; those presuming mites
Whom ignorance with
empty pomp adorns,
And misinstructs in specious dignity;
mites who, reas'ning outward, vaunt themselves
As the chief work of
Nature, and enjoy
In fatuous fancy the particular care
Of all her
mystic, super-regnant pow'r.
And as I strove to vision the sad sphere
Which lurk'd, lost in ethereal vortices;
Methough my soul, tun'd
to the infinite,
Refus'd to glimpse that poor atomic blight;
misbegotten accident of space;
That globe of insignificance, whereon
(My guide celestial told me) dwells no part
Of empyreal virtue,
but where breed
The coarse corruptions of divine disease;
fest'ring ailments of infinity;
The morbid matter by itself call'd
Such matter (said my guide) as oft breaks forth
Creation's fabric, to annoy
For a brief instant, ere assuaging death
Heal up the malady its birth provok'd.
Sicken'd, I turn'd my heavy
Then spake th' ethereal guide with mocking mien,
Upbraiding me for searching after Truth;
Visiting on my mind the
Of mind superior; laughing at the woe
Which rent the
vital essence of my soul.
Methought he brought remembrance of the time
When from my fellows to the grove I stray'd,
In solitude and dusk
On things forbidden, and to pierce the veil
good and seeming beauteousness
That covers o'er the tragedy of Truth,
Helping mankind forget his sorry lot,
And raising Hope where Truth
would crush it down.
He spake, and as he ceas'd, methought the flames
Of fuming Heav'n revolv'd in torments dire;
Whirling in maelstroms
of revellious might,
Yet ever bound by laws I fathom'd not.
and epicycles of such girth
That each a cosmos seem'd, dazzled my gaze
Till all a wild phantasmal flow became.
Now burst athwart the
A rift of purer sheen, a sight supernal,
Broader that all the void conceiv'd by man,
Yet narrow here. A
glimpse of heav'ns beyond;
Of weird creations so remote and great
That ev'n my guide assum'd a tone of awe.
Borne on the wings of
A touch of rhythm celestial reach'd my soul;
Thrilling me more with horror than with joy.
Again the spirit
mock'd my human pangs,
And deep revil'd me for presumptuous thoughts;
Yet changing now his mien, he bade me scan
The wid'ning rift that
clave the walls of space;
He bade me search it for the ultimate;
He bade me find the truth I sought so long;
He bade me brave th'
The final Truth of moving entity.
All this he
bade and offer'd - but my soul,
Clinging to life, fled without aim or
Shrieking in silence through the gibbering deeps.
* * * * * *
Thus shriek'd the young Lucullus, as he fled
deeps - and tumbled out of bed;
Within the room the morning sunshine
Whilst the poor youth recalls his troubled dreams.
feels his aching limbs, whose woeful pain
Informs his soul his body
And thanks his stars - or cosmoses - or such -
he survives the noxious nightmare's clutch.
Thrill'd with the music of
th' eternal spheres,
(Or is it the alarm-clock that he hears?)
vows to all the Pantheon, high and low,
No more to feed on cake, or
pie, or Poe.
And now his gloomy spirits seem to rise,
As he the
world beholds with clearer eyes;
The cup he thought too full of dregs
Affords him wine enough to raise a laugh.
(All this is
metaphor - you must not think
Our late Endymion prone to stronger
With brighter visage and with lighter heart,
He turns his
fancies to the grocer's mart;
And strange to say, at last he seems to
His daily duties worthy of his mind.
Since Truth prov'd such
a high and dang'rous goal,
Our bard seeks one less trying to his soul;
With deep-drawn breath he flouts his dreary woes,
And a good clerk
from a bad poet grows!
Now close attend my lay, ye scribbling crew
That bay the moon in numbers strange and new;
That madly for the
spark celestial bawl
In metres short or long, or none at all;
your rash force, in numbers or at tea,
Nor over-zealous for high
Reflect, ere ye the draught Pierian take,
clerks or plumbers ye might make;
Wax not too frenzied in the leaping
That neither sense nor measure can confine,
Lest ye, like
young Lucullus Launguish, groan
Beneath Poe-etic nightmares of your