(Henry) Austin Dobson (1840-1921)

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Love's Quest

(For a Mural Painting)

Whenas the watches of the night had grown
To that deep loneliness where dreams begin,
I saw how Love, with visage worn and thin,--
With wings close-bound, went through a town alone.
Death-pale he showed, and inly seemed to moan
With sore desire some dolorous place to win;
Sharp brambles passed had streaked his dazzling skin,--
His bright feet eke were gashed with many a stone.
And, as he went, I, sad for piteousness,
Might see how men from door and gate would move
To stay his steps; or womankind would press,
With wistful eyes, to balconies above,
And bid him enter in. But Love not less,
Mournful, kept on his way. Ah! hapless Love.

To Phidyle

(Horace, III. 23)

Incense, and flesh of swine, and this year's grain,
At the new moon, with suppliant hands, bestow,
O rustic Phidyle! So naught shall know
Thy crops of blight, thy vine of Afric bane,
And hale the nurslings of thy flock remain
Through the sick apple-tide. Fit victims grow
'Twixt holm and oak upon the Algid snow,
Or Alban grass, that with their necks must stain
The Pontiff's axe: to thee can scarce avail
Thy modest gods with much slain to assail,
Whom myrtle crowns and rosemary can please.
Lay on the altar a hand pure of fault;
More than rich gifts the Powers it shall appease,
Though pious but with meal and crackling salt.

A Sonnet in Dialogue

              FRANK (on the Lawn)
Come to the Terrace, May,--the sun is low.
              MAY (in the House)
Thanks, I prefer my Browning here instead.
There are two peaches by the strawberry bed.
They will be riper if we let them grow.
Then the Park-aloe is in bloom, you know.
Also, her Majesty Queen Anne is dead.
But surely, May, your pony must be fed.
And was, and is. I fed him hours ago.
'Tis useless, Frank, you see I shall not stir.
Still, I had something you would like to hear.
No doubt some new frivolity of men.
Nay,--'tis a thing the gentler sex deplores
Chiefly, I think . . .
              MAY (coming to the window).
                          What is this secret, then?
              FRANK (mysteriously).
There are no eyes more beautiful than yours!

Don Quixote

Behind thy pasteboard, on thy battered back,
Thy lean cheek striped with plaster to and fro,
Thy long spear levelled at the unseen foe,
And doubtful Sancho trudging at thy back,
Thou wert a figure strange enough, good lack!
To make wiseacredom, both high and low,
Rub purblind eyes, and (having watched thee go)
Despatch its Dogberrys upon thy track:
Alas! poor Knight! Alas! poor soul possest!
Yet would to-day, when Courtesy grows chill,
And life's fine loyalties are turned to jest,
Some fire of thine might burn within us still!
Ah! would but one might lay his lance in rest,
And charge in earnest--were it but a mill.

A Pleasant Invective against Printing

"Flee from the Prees, and dwelle in sothfastnesse."

--Chaucer, "Balade de Bon Conseil"

The Press is too much with us, small and great:
We are undone of chatter and on dit,
Report, retort, rejoinder, repartee,
Mole-hill and mare's nest, fiction up-to-date,
Babble of booklets, bicker of debate,
Aspect of A., and attitude of B.--
A waste of words that drive us like a sea,
Mere derelict of Ourselves, and helpless freight!

"O for a lodge in some vast wilderness!"
Some region unapproachable of Print,
Where never cablegram could gain access,
And telephones were not, nor any hint
Of tidings new or old, but Man might pipe
His soul to Nature,--careless of the Type!