Extract from From an Upper Verandah

What happier haunt could the gods allot
For loftiest musing to sage or bard?-
Yet I would that this upper verandah did not
Look down on my beautiful Neighbour’s Back-yard!

I stir the afflatus: Descend, O ye Nine!
Let the crystalline gates of the soul be unbarred!
No. My thought will keep running in one fixed line-
The clothesline that hangs in my Neighbour’s Back-yard

Let me gaze on the hills; let me think of the sea;
Of the dawn rosy-fingered – the night silver-starred:-
(What dear little feet must the owner’s be
Of those stockings that hang in my Neighbour’s Back-yard!)

………..

I will shut my eyes fast – I have hit it at last,
Now my purest Ideals flit by me unmarred;
And odours of memory rise from the past,
(And an odour of suds from my Neighbour’s Back-yard!)
…………….

Oh, shame on my rapidly silvering hairs!
Oh, shame on this veteran battered and scarred!
I to be witched with these frilled – affairs!
Confound my neighbour! Confound her backyard!

Why seek for the blossoms of Auld Lang Syne,
When the boughs where they budded are blasted and charred?-
Faugh! The whole concern’s too alkaline-
It’s washing day in my Neighbour’s Back-yard!

                                             James Brunton Stephens (1875)

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