To B. H. H. (On his travels)
(On his travels).
And will thy travels never end?
And wilt thou not return, my friend?
Shall Piccadilly never more,
Amid the busses' daily roar,
Where prowls the Baron's stately goat,
Thy philosophic footfall note?
Nor ever will the Savile's board
The dainties of the hour afford
To one grave form amid the Babel
Which girds that lofty-minded table?
Come: for we miss thee. That slow smile
Has failed us now too long a while:
That network of ingenious phrase
Suggesting more than what it says:
The literary epigram
Which gracefully unmasks a sham,
Or else awards judicious praise
To one who earns but wears not bays,
Are lacking in our midst, and we
Drift, rudderless, about a sea
Of conversation unadorned
By him whose absence long we've mourned.
Come: for I need you: more or less
Because I love to play at chess;
Partly because I want to know
Your views about a book or so,
Which I have published, or intend
To publish: most of all, my friend,
Because I found thy converse sweet,
Thy fellowship a joy complete,
And life is short and art is long,
And still the absent suffer wrong.
I know not where thy footsteps stray,
Nor what the ordering of thy day:
If now thy graceful shallop slips
Amid the gorgeous Eastern ships,
Where some vast river makes a lane
Across the forest-hidden plain:
If, stretched upon a soft divan,
You lounge, as orientals can,
And trace the rings of fragrant smoke
One graceful moment soar unbroke;
While, lo, the wordless Kitmagar
Presents the welcome waterjar,
And swart Chuprassis stand at ease,
Beneath umbrageous banyan trees:
If now perchance the crescent moon
Hangs high, at night's reposeful noon,
Against a gloomy purple sky,
Star-studded in its majesty,
While slow you walk alone, and deep
In thoughts that bring more rest than sleep.
Come, anyhow: if not to find
An occupation to thy mind,
Nor yet a Fortunatus' purse,
Nor any cure for any curse:
Come, talk, live, marry, work, write, sing;
Be eloquent on anything:
Be active in whatever line:
And if a sun less splendid shine,
And vegetation less profuse,
And persons worthier of abuse,
Are found with us than now with you;
Still, though our merits may be few,
We are at least thy friends of youth,
Thy fellow-seekers after truth,
Thy fellow-talkers, fellow-bards,
Thy fellows still in all regards;
So turn again towards the West,
And grasp their hands who love you best.