Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Antique Lays

This was on the Poetry Calendar 2007 today. If the boy gave them "antique lays," then how can he say that he was spurned?

Last Verses

Farewell, Bristolia's dingy piles of brick,
Lovers of mammon, worshippers of trick!
Ye spurned the boy who gave you antique lays,
And paid for learning with your empty praise.
Farewell, ye guzzling aldermanic fools,
By nature fitted for corruption's tools!
I go to where celestial anthems swell;
But you, when you depart, will sink to hell.
Farewell, my mother!-cease, my anguished soul,
Nor let distraction's billows o'er me roll!
Have mercy, Heaven! when here i cease to live,
And this last act of wretchedness forgive.

Thomas Chatterton


I liked yesterday's poem, too, a simple but resonant poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Vox Populi

When Mazarvan the Magician
Journeyed westward through Cathay,
Nothing heard he but the praises
Of Badoura on his way.

But the lessening rumor ended
When he came to Khaledan,
There the folk were talking only
Of Prince Camaralzaman,

So it happens with the poets:
Every province hath its own;
Camaralzaman is famous
Where Badoura is unknown.


Ms Baroque said...

Doesn't it mean "gave" as in "offered" - and all they repaid him with for his songs was empty praise, not money to live on?

Both very sweet poems.

Andrew Shields said...

Even if it's offered, I was being deliberately anachronistic (à la Borges's "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote") and assuming "lay" meant something more modern ... So he offered them some kind of exotic sex, and they turned him down! :-)

The poem is of course much sweeter than my deliberately anachronistic and lewd reading! :-)