Retrospection

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 1863 (Bodmin, Cornwall) – 1944 (Cornwall)

After C. S. C.
When the hunter-star Orion
(Or, it may be, Charles his Wain)
Tempts the tiny elves to try on
All their little tricks again;
When the earth is calmly breathing
Draughts of slumber undefiled,
And the sire, unused to teething,
Seeks for errant pins his child;
When the moon is on the ocean,
And our little sons and heirs
From a natural emotion
Wish the luminary theirs;
Then a feeling hard to stifle,
Even harder to define,
Makes me feel I 'd give a trifle
For the days of Auld Lang Syne.
James—for we have been as brothers
(Are, to speak correctly, twins),
Went about in one another's
Clothing, bore each other's sins,
Rose together, ere the pearly
Tint of morn had left the heaven,
And retired (absurdly early)
Simultaneously at seven—
James, the days of yore were pleasant.
Sweet to climb for alien pears
Till the irritated peasant
Came and took us unawares;
Sweet to devastate his chickens,
As the ambush'd catapult
Scattered, and the very dickens
Was the natural result;
Sweet to snare the thoughtless rabbit;
Break the next-door neighbour's pane;
Cultivate the smoker's habit
On the not-innocuous cane;
Leave the exercise unwritten;
Systematically cut
Morning school, to plunge the kitten
In his bath, the water-butt.
Age, my James, that from the cheek of
Beauty steals its rosy hue,
Has not left us much to speak of:
But 'tis not for this I rue.
Beauty with its thousand graces,
Hair and tints that will not fade,
You may get from many places
Practically ready-made.
No; it is the evanescence
Of those lovelier tints of Hope—
Bubbles, such as adolescence
Joys to win from melted soap—
Emphasizing the conclusion
That the dreams of Youth remain
Castles that are An delusion
(Castles, that's to say, in Spain).
Age thinks 'fit,' and I say 'fiat.'
Here I stand for Fortune's butt,
As for Sunday swains to shy at
Stands the stoic coco-nut.
If you wish it put succinctly,
Gone are all our little games;
But I thought I 'd say distinctly
What I feel about it, James.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch

Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch was a Cornish writer who published using the pseudonym Q. more…

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