GEORDIE TO HIS TOBACCO-PIPE.
Good pipe, old friend, old black and colored friend,
Whom I have smoked these fourteen years and more,
My best companion, faithful to the end,
Faithful to death through all thy fiery core,
How shall I sing thy praises, or proclaim
The generous virtues which I've found in thee?
I know thou carest not a whit for fame,
And hast no thought but how to comfort me,
And serve my needs, and humor every mood;
But love and friendship do my heart constrain
To give thee all I can for much of good
Which thou hast rendered me in joy and pain.
Say, then, old honest meerschaum! shall I weave
Thy history together with my own?
Of late I never see thee but I grieve
For him whose gift thou wert--forever gone!
Gone to his grave amidst the vines of France,
He, all so good, so beautiful, and wise;
And this dear giver doth thyself enhance,
And makes thee doubly precious in mine eyes.
For he was one of Nature's rarest men,--
Poet and preacher, lover of his kind,
True-hearted man of God, whose like again
In this world's journey I may never find.
I know not if the shadow of his soul,
Or the divine effulgence of his heart,
Has through thy veins in mystic silence stole;
But thou to me dost seem of him a part.
His hands have touched thee, and his lips have drawn,
As mine, full many an inspiring cloud
From thy great burning heart, at night and morn;
And thou art here, whilst he lies in his shroud!
And here am I, his friend and thine, old pipe!
And he has often sat my chair beside,
As he was wont to sit in living type,
Of many companies the flower and pride,--
Sat by my side, and talked to me the while,
Invisible to every eye save mine,
And smiled upon me as he used to smile
When we three sat o'er our good cups of wine.
Ah, happy days, when the old Chapel House,
Of the old Forest Chapel, rang with mirth,
And the great joy of our divine carouse,
As we hobnobbed it by the blazing hearth!
We never more, old pipe, shall see those days,
Whose memories lie like pictures in my mind;
But thou and I will go the self-same ways,
E'en though we leave all other friends behind.
And for thy sake, and for my own, and his,
We will be one, as we have ever been,
Thou dear old friend, with thy most honest phiz,
And no new faces come our loves between.
Thou hast thy separate virtues, honest pipe!
Apart from all the memory of friends:
For thou art mellow, old, and black, and ripe;
And the good weed that in its smoke ascends
From thy rare bowl doth scent the liberal air
With incense richer than the woods of Ind.
E'en to the barren palate of despair
(Inhaled through cedar tubes from glorious Scinde!)
It hath a charm would quicken into life,
And make the heart gush out in streams of love,
And the earth, dead before, with beauty rife,
And full of flowers as heaven of stars above.
It is thy virtue and peculiar gift,
Thou sooty wizard of the potent weed;
No other pipe can thus the soul uplift,
Or such rare fancies and high musings breed.
I've tried full many of thy kith and kind,
Dug from thy native Asiatic clay,
Fashioned by cunning hand and curious mind
Into all shapes and features, grave and gay,--
Black niggers' heads with their white-livered eyes
Glaring in fiery horror through the smoke,
And monstrous dragons stained with bloody dyes,
And comelier forms; but all save thee I broke.
For though, like thee, each pipe was black and old,
They were not wiser for their many years,
Nor knew thy sorcery though set in gold,
Nor had thy tropic taste,--these proud compeers!
Like great John Paul, who would have loved thee well,
Thou art the "only one" of all thy race;
Nor shall another comrade near thee dwell,
Old King of pipes! my study's pride and grace!
Thus have I made "assurance doubly sure,"
And sealed it twice, that thou shalt reign alone!
And as the dainty bee doth search for pure,
Sweet honey till his laden thighs do groan
With their sweet burden, tasting nothing foul,
So thou of best tobacco shalt be filled;
And when the starry midnight wakes the owl,
And the lorn nightingale her song has trilled,
I, with my lamp and books, as is my wont,
Will give thee of the choicest of all climes,--
Black Cavendish, full-flavored, full of juice,
Pale Turkish, famed through all the Osman times,
Dark Latakia, Syrian, Persia's pride,
And sweet Virginian, sweeter than them all!
Oh, rich bouquet of plants! fit for a bride
Who, blushing, waits the happy bridegroom's call!
And these shall be thy food, thy dainty food,
And we together will their luxury share,
Voluptuous tumults stealing through the blood,
Voluptuous visions filling all the air!
I will not thee profane with impious shag,
Nor poison thee with nigger-head and twist,
Nor with Kentucky, though the planters brag
That it hath virtues all the rest have missed.
These are for porters, loafers, and the scum,
Who have no sense for the diviner weeds,
Who drink their muddy beer and muddier rum,
Insatiate, like dogs in all their greeds.
But not for thee nor me these things obscene;
We have a higher pleasure, purer taste.
My draughts have been with thee of hippocrene,
And our delights intelligent and chaste.
Intelligent and chaste since we have held
Commune together on the world's highway;
No Falstaff failings have my mind impelled
To do misdeeds of sack by night or day;
But we have ever erred on virtue's side--
At least we should have done--but woe is me!
I fear in this my statement I have lied,
For ghosts, like moonlight shadows on the sea,
Crowd thick around me from the shadowy past,--
Ghosts of old memories reeling drunk with wine!
And boon companions, Lysius-like, and vast
In their proportions as the god divine.
I do confess my sins, and here implore
The aid of "Rare Old Ben" and other ghosts
That I may sin again, but rarely more,
Responsive only unto royal toasts.
For, save these sins, I am a saintly man,
And live like other saints on prayer and praise,
My long face longer, if life be a span,
Than any two lives in these saintly days.
So let me smoke and drink and do good deeds,
And boast the doing like a Pharisee;
Am I not holy if I love the creeds,
Even though my drinking sins choke up the sea?
GEORGE S. PHILLIPS (JANUARY SEARLE): _The Gypsies of the Dane's Dike._
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