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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Charles Stuart Calverley (1831–1884)


From “Fly Leaves”

I KNOW not why my soul is rack’d;

Why I ne’er smile as was my wont;

I only know that as a fact,

I don’t.

I used to roam o’er glen and glade

Buoyant and blithe as other folk;

And not unfrequently I made

A joke.

A minstrel’s fire within me burned.

I’d sing, as one whose heart must break,

Lay upon lay; I nearly learned

To shake.

All day I sang; of love, of fame,

Of fights our fathers fought of yore,

Until the thing almost became

A bore.

I cannot sing the old songs now;

It is not that I deem them low;

’Tis that I can’t remember how

They go.

I could not range the hills till high

Above me stood the summer moon;

And as to dancing, I could fly

As soon.

The sports to which with boyish glee

I sprang erewhile, attract no more;

Although I am but sixty-three

Or four.

Nay, worse than that, I seem of late

To shrink from happy boyhood. Boys

Have grown so noisy, and I hate

A noise.

They fright me when the beech is green

By swarming up its stem for eggs;

They drive their horrid hoops between

My legs;

It’s idle to repine, I know;

I’ll tell you what I’ll do instead:

I’ll drink my arrow-root, and go

To bed.