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Poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon

Borrow'd Plumes

    [A Preface and a Piracy]


    Of borrow'd plumes I take the sin,
    My extracts will apply
    To some few silly songs which in
    These pages scatter'd lie.

    The words are Edgar Allan Poe's,
    As any man may see,
    But what a POE-t wrote in prose,
    Shall make blank verse for me.

     These trifles are collected and republished chiefly with a
     view to their redemption from the many improvements to which
     they have been subjected while going at random the rounds of
     the Press. I am naturally anxious that what I have written
     should circulate as I wrote it, if it circulate at all. * *
     * * * * In defence of my own taste, nevertheless, it is
     incumbent upon me to say that I think nothing in this volume
     of much value to the public, or very creditable to myself.
     E. A. P.

           (See Preface to Poe's Poetical Works.)


    And now that my theft stands detected,
    The first of my extracts may call
    To some of the rhymes here collected
    Your notice, the second to all.

    Ah! friend, you may shake your head sadly,
    Yet this much you'll say for my verse,
    I've written of old something badly,
    But written anew something worse.

    Pastor Cum
    [Translation from Horace]

    When he, that shepherd false, 'neath Phrygian sails,
    Carried his hostess Helen o'er the seas,
    In fitful slumber Nereus hush'd the gales,
    That he might sing their future destinies.
    A curse to your ancestral home you take
    With her, whom Greece, with many a soldier bold
    Shall seek again, in concert sworn to break
    Your nuptial ties and Priam's kingdom old.
    Alas! what sweat from man and horse must flow,
    What devastation to the Trojan realm
    You carry, even now doth Pallas show
    Her wrath, preparing buckler, car, and helm.
    In vain, secure in Aphrodite's care,
    You comb your locks, and on the girlish lyre
    Select the strains most pleasant to the fair;
    In vain, on couch reclining, you desire
    To shun the darts that threaten, and the thrust
    Of Cretan lance, the battle's wild turmoil,
    And Ajax swift to followin the dust
    Condemned, though late, your wanton curls to soil.
    Ah! see you not where (fatal to your race)
    Laertes' son comes with the Pylean sage;
    Fearless alike, with Teucer joins the chase
    Stenelaus, skill'd the fistic strife to wage,
    Nor less expert the fiery steeds to quell;
    And Meriones, you must know. Behold
    A warrior, than his sire more fierce and fell,
    To find you rages,Diomed the bold,
    Whom like the stag that, far across the vale,
    The wolf being seen, no herbage can allure,
    So fly you, panting sorely, dastard pale!
    Not thus you boasted to your paramour.
    Achilles' anger for a space defers
    The day of wrath to Troy and Trojan dame;
    Inevitable glide the allotted years,
    And Dardan roofs must waste in Argive flame.

Adam Lindsay Gordon

Adam Lindsay Gordon's other poems:
  1. Podas Okus
  2. Ars Longa
  3. A Legend of Madrid
  4. Delilah
  5. From the Wreck

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