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Full Online Book HomePoemsRhymes A La Mode - The Spinet
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Rhymes A La Mode - The Spinet Post by :dimitri_woo2 Category :Poems Author :Andrew Lang Date :February 2012 Read :2050

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Rhymes A La Mode - The Spinet

The Spinet

My heart an old Spinet with strings
To laughter chiefly turned, but some
That Fate has practised hard on, dumb,
They answer not whoever sings.
The ghosts of half-forgotten things
Will touch the keys with fingers numb,
The little mocking spirits come
And thrill it with their fairy wings.

A jingling harmony it makes
My heart, my lyre, my old Spinet,
And now a memory it wakes,
And now the music means "forget,"
And little heed the player takes
Howe'er the thoughtful critic fret.

 

NOTES

The Fortunate Islands.

This piece is a rhymed loose version of a passage in the Vera Historia of Lucian. The humorist was unable to resist the temptation to introduce passages of mockery, which are here omitted. Part of his description of the Isles of the Blest has a close and singular resemblance to the New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse. The clear River of Life and the prodigality of gold and of precious stones may especially be noticed.

WHOSO DOTH TASTE THE DEAD MEN'S BREAD, &.c. This belief that the living may visit, on occasion, the dwellings of the dead, but can never return to earth if they taste the food of the departed, is expressed in myths of worldwide distribution. Because she ate the pomegranate seed, Persephone became subject to the spell of Hades. In Apuleius, Psyche, when she visits the place of souls, is advised to abstain from food. Kohl found the myth among the Ojibbeways, Mr. Codrington among the Solomon Islanders; it occurs in Samoa, in the Finnish Kalewala (where Wainamoinen, in Pohjola, refrains from touching meat or drink), and the belief has left its mark on the mediaeval ballad of Thomas of Ercildoune. When he is in Fairy Land, the Fairy Queen supplies him with the bread and wine of earth, and will not suffer him to touch the fruits which grow "in this countrie." See also "Wandering Willie" in Redgauntlet.

AS NOW THE HUTTED ESKIMO. The Eskimo and the miserable Fuegians are almost the only Socialists who practise what European Anarchists preach. The Fuegians go so far as to tear up any piece of cloth which one of the tribe may receive, so that each member may have a rag. The Eskimo are scarcely such consistent walkers, and canoes show a tendency to accumulate in the hands of proprietors. Formerly no Eskimo was allowed to possess more than one canoe. Such was the wild justice of the Polar philosophers.

THE LATEST MINSTREL. "The sound of all others dearest to his ear, the gentle ripple of Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly audible as we knelt around the bed and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes."--Lockhart's Life of Scott, vii., 394.

RONSARD'S GRAVE. This version ventures to condense the original which, like most of the works of the Pleiad, is unnecessarily long.

THE SNOW, AND WIND, AND HAIL. Ronsard's rendering of the famous passage in Odyssey, vi., about the dwellings of the Olympians. The vision of a Paradise of learned lovers and poets constantly recurs in the poetry of Joachim du Bellay, and of Ronsard.

ROMANCE. Suggested by a passage in La Faustin, by M. E. de Goncourt, a curious moment of poetry in a repulsive piece of naturalisme.

M. BOULMIER, author of Les Villanelles, died shortly after this villanelle was written; he had not published a larger collection on which he had been at work.

EDMUND GORLIOT. The bibliophile will not easily procure Gorliot's book, which is not in the catalogues. Throughout The Last Maying there is reference to the Pervigilium Veneris.

BIRD-GODS. Apparently Aristophanes preserved, in a burlesque form, the remnants of a genuine myth. Almost all savage religions have their bird-gods, and it is probable that Aristophanes did not invent, but only used a surviving myth of which there are scarcely any other traces in Greek literature.

SPINET. The accent is on the last foot, even when the word is written spinnet. Compare the remarkable Liberty which Pamela took with the 137th Psalm.


My Joys and Hopes all overthrown,
My Heartstrings almost broke,
Unfit my Mind for Melody,
Much more to bear a Joke.
But yet, if from my Innocence
I, even in Thought, should slide,
Then, let my fingers quite forget
The sweet Spinnet to guide!

Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, vol. i., p. 184., 1785


(The end)
Andrew Lang's poem: Rhymes a la Mode

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