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Poem by George Arnold


Wool-Gathering


I

A pleasant golden light fills all the chamber where I sit,
the amber curtains close are drawn, and shadows oer then flit
The swaying, shifting shadows of the honey-suckle vine,
Whose bare and leafless branches still about the porch entwine:
In summer, fresh and fair they grow, with blossoms for the bees,
But now in wintry nakedness they swing upon the breeze;
Yet here, inside, tis warm and bright, and I am quite inclined
To let this golden demi-jour make summer in my mind:
I sit with Jackmy terrier-dogupon my lap curled up,
And, smoking thoughtfully, I seem to sip the classic cup
The Ancients called Nepenthetis a draught that brings repose
When one has lived or loved too mucha balm for mental woes.
Yet, in this same Nepenthe cup, I know that some will see
Another name for lazinessa common fault with me!

II

Well, why not preach up laziness? I think it would be well
If some who cry it down a sin could only feel its spell!
The hard, ascetic naturesthose who look for naught but Use
In every thing one says or doeswhose spirits are obtuse
To all the glorious gains of Art, to all the joys of sense,
And who cut their hard paths straightly by Poon Riduands eloquence!
G~i bono? Is there not a Power above the human mind
That works out all our problems, be they eer so darkly blind?
And, after all, does Man, the unit, when his life is done
Ever look back upon its field to see the battle ~von?
No; I think not: we lay our plans, but when our life-star pales
We learn that human prescience inevitably fails;
NAPOLEON on his islandColumbus in his chains
Are these the proud successes, then, for which we take such pains?

III

Ah, many a one has started forth with hope and purpose high;
Has fought throughout a weary life, and passed all pleasure by;
Has burst all flowery chains by which men aye have been enthralled;
Has been stone-deaf to voices sweet, that softly, sadly called;
Has scorned the flashing goblet with the bubbles on its brim;
Has turned his back on jeweled bands that madly beckoned him;
Has, in a word, condemned himself to follow out his plan
By stern and lonely laborand has died, a conquered man!
Look back, ye men of lofty aims, who in your youth aspired
To win some prizewith love of gold or glory ye were fired;
But now? let those who count threescore-and-ten full circles past
Tell how much they have gained and losthow much they hold at last!
NAPOLEON and COLUMBUS, and legions more, whose names
We never even heard ofthese were men of lofty aims!

IV

So, in this softened yellow light, with JACK npon my knees,
I find my good in being just as lazy as I please;
My pipe-smoke floats aspiringly, and that, Im fain to say,
Is as much of aspiration as I care to see to-day;
Though JACK, disturbed by canine dreams, gives forth a sleepy cry,
And full of lofty aims prepares to conquer or to die;
No doubt some mighty spectral rat glares through his visions dim,
Which JACK is bound to vanquish, or the rat will vanquish him!
Well, well, my dog, be wise, and all these high ambitions keep,
Unlike poor man, indulge them only when you are asleep
Whats this? I find that while in praise of laziness I sang,
Ive worked quite hard to write a metaphysical harangue!
Well, thus it is; consistency exists on earth no more
My dog has waked, my pipe is out, my laziness is oer!



George Arnold


George Arnold's other poems:
  1. A Summer Longing
  2. Introspection
  3. The Jolly Old Pedagogue
  4. Recrimination
  5. Love's Messengers


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