Mr. MacCall at Cleveland Hall

James Thomson 1700 (Port Glasgow) – 1748 (London)

Mr. MacCall at Cleveland Hall,
Sunday evening-date to fix-
Fifteenth April, sixty-six,
Speech reported and redacted
By a fellow much distracted.


Who lectures? No mere scorner;
Clear-brained, his heart is warm.

She sits at the nearest comer
Of I will not say what form.


The Conflict of Opinions
In the Present Day, saith Chair.

What muff in the British dominions
Could dispute that she is fair?


Mammon-worship is horrid,
Plutocracy is base.

Dark hair from a fine small forehead;
I catch but the still side face.


We wallow in mere dimension,
The Big to us is Great.

If she stood at her utmost tension
She might pass four feet eight.


We lay on colour in splashes,
With a mop, or a broom for brush.

How dark are her long eyelashes!
How pure is her cheek's slight flush!


But we have no perception
For form-the divinest-now.

Each curve there is perfection,
In nostril, chin, and brow.


Our women are good kind creatures,
But they cannot dress at all.

Does her bonnet grace her features?
Clear blue with a black lace fall.


Low Church-very low-in the gutter;
High Church-as ven'son high.

O'er the flower of her face gleams the flutter
Of a smile like a butterfly.


Herder, Wieland, Lessing;
Bossuet, Montalembert.

Fine names, but the name worth guessing
Is the name of the sweet girl there.

The individual; true man;

A man's but one half, some woman
The other half must be.


Persistent valour the sternest,
With love's most gentle grace.

How grand is the eye fixed earnest
In the half-seen up-turned face!


'How did you like the lecture?
Was it not beautiful?'

I should think she was! 'I conjecture
That your brains have been gathering wool!'

P. S.

The Chairman was a rare man;
At every telling point
He smiled at his post like a jolly host
Carving rich cuts from the joint;
Which the name he bore was Richard Moore
Whom Heaven with grace anoint!

That conflict of opinion
It had its counterpart
In conflict for dominion
Between my head and heart.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:48 min read

James Thomson

James Thomson, who wrote under the pseudonym Bysshe Vanolis, was a Scottish Victorian-era poet famous primarily for the long poem The City of Dreadful Night, an expression of bleak pessimism in a dehumanized, uncaring urban environment. more…

All James Thomson poems | James Thomson Books

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