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BELLOC, Hilaire


Tarantella

Do you remember an Inn,

Miranda?

Do you remember an Inn?

And the tedding and the spreading

Of the straw for a bedding,

And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,

And the wine that tasted of tar?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?

Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,

Do you remember an Inn?

And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers

Who hadn't got a penny,

And who weren't paying any,

And the hammer at the doors and the din?

And the hip! hop! hap!

Of the clap

Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl

Of the girl gone chancing,

Glancing,

Dancing,

Backing and advancing,

Snapping of the clapper to the spin

Out and in--

And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!

Do you remember an Inn,

Miranda?

Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;

Miranda,

Never more.

Only the high peaks hoar;

And Aragon a torrent at the door.

No sound

In the walls of the halls where falls

The tread

Of the feet of the dead to the ground,

No sound:

But the boom

Of the far waterfall like doom.


Because My Faltering Feet

Because my faltering feet may fail to dare
The first descendant of the steps of Hell
Give me the Word in time that triumphs there.
I too must pass into the misty hollow
Where all our living laughter stops: and hark!
The tiny stuffless voices of the dark

Have called me, called me, till I needs must follow:
Give me the Word and I'll attempt it well.

Say it's the little winking of an eye
Which in that issue is uncurtained quite;
A little sleep that helps a moment by
Between the thin dawn and the large daylight.
Ah! tell me more than yet was hoped of men;
Swear that's true now, and I'll believe it then.


Ballade to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Lady and Queen and Mystery manifold
And very Regent of the untroubled sky,
Whom in a dream St. Hilda did behold
And heard a woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
In broken waters terrible to try;
And vast against the winter night the wold,
And harbourless for any sail to lie.
But you shall lead me to the lights, and I
Shall hymn you in a harbour story told.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Help of the half-defeated, House of gold,
Shrine of the Sword, and Tower of Ivory;
Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled,
The Battler's vision and the World's reply.
You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
To vengence and the glories of the bold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Envoi

Prince of the degradations, bought and sold,
These verses, written in your crumbling sty,
Proclaim the faith that I have held and hold
And publish that in which I mean to die.



MATILDA

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,

It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;

Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,

Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,

Attempted to Believe Matilda:

The effort very nearly killed her,

And would have done so, had not She

Discovered this Infirmity.

For once, towards the Close of Day,

Matilda, growing tired of play,

And finding she was left alone,

Went tiptoe to the Telephone

And summoned the Immediate Aid

Of London's Noble Fire-Brigade.

Within an hour the Gallant Band

Were pouring in on every hand,

From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.

With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,

They galloped, roaring through the Town,

'Matilda's House is Burning Down!'

Inspired by British Cheers and Loud

Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,

They ran their ladders through a score

Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;

And took Peculiar Pains to Souse

The Pictures up and down the House,

Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded

In showing them they were not needed;

And even then she had to pay

To get the Men to go away!

It happened that a few Weeks later

Her Aunt was off to the Theatre

To see that Interesting Play

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.

She had refused to take her Niece

To hear this Entertaining Piece:

A Deprivation Just and Wise

To Punish her for Telling Lies.

That Night a Fire did break out--

You should have heard Matilda Shout!

You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,

And throw the window up and call

To People passing in the Street--

(The rapidly increasing Heat

Encouraging her to obtain

Their confidence) -- but all in vain!

For every time she shouted 'Fire!'

They only answered 'Little Liar!'

And therefore when her Aunt returned,

Matilda, and the House, were Burned.


The Frog

Be kind and tender to the Frog,

   And do not call him names,

As ‘Slimy skin,’ or ‘Polly-wog,’

   Or likewise ‘Ugly James,’

Or ‘Gape-a-grin,’ or ‘Toad-gone-wrong,’   

   Or ‘Billy Bandy-knees’:

The Frog is justly sensitive

   To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay

   A treatment kind and fair;

At least so lonely people say

Who keep a frog (and, by the way,   

They are extremely rare).