Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SCAMPS OF ROMANCE, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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SCAMPS OF ROMANCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: We're off across the hills today with merriment agog
Last Line: With old glories on our stories, and our march -- tramp! Tramp!
Subject(s): Mandeville, Sir John; Travel; Journeys; Trips


I.

We're off across the hills today with merriment agog,
With pipe and timbrel ribboned gay, with fiddle-scrape and clog.
Then, Nolly Goldsmith, here's to thee! Send Villon's soul no ill!
But all hail that Prince of Vagabonds, Sir John Maundeville!

Oh, Sir John Maundeville, Sir John Maundeville,
Saw more Golcondas in the west than e'er another will!
Brave Marco Polo pales to naught, Aladdin's boast is still,
Before the gallant glory of Sir John Maundeville!

So we march -- tramp! tramp! -- and the ringing of our tread
Hales forth the highway swaggerers of lusty times long dead.
When so the glad world's purple clad, it's hail the romance scamp,
With the zesting of our jesting, and our march -- tramp! tramp!

II.

There's Spindleshanks and Bonfire-head and trolling Heneree,
And each as mad a braggart bred as any age may see.
There's castles in each wind-piled cloud and Spain just o'er the hill;
And, for best of all romancers, there's Sir John Maundeville!

Oh, Sir John Maundeville, Sir John Maundeville!
AEneas Sylvius, go up, and, Hakluyt, rest you still;
Cathay, Damascus, Lamary, and Persia shall fulfil
The magic of the legends of Sir John Maundeville!

III.

Come, hydra of the Lernean slough! Promethean vulture, come!
The charms that we have learned for you shall strike your terrors dumb.
The ghost of Raleigh gapes askance; he takes our mirth so ill.
And Pliny louts his bonnet to Sir John Maundeville!

Oh, Sir John Maundeville, Sir John Maundeville!
Of Noah's Ark and Hills o' Gold he'll spin you yarns until
The Chan of rich Cathay's your slave, and Caffolos is shrill
Singing the lofty praises of Sir John Maundeville!

IV.

We know the wild chimaeric herds -- Aspis, Leviathan,
And all the fabled beasts and birds were since the world began.
The Solan Geese flop from their trees; yon crawls the Cuckodrill --
And all because we read about Sir John Maundeville!

Oh, Sir John Maundeville, Sir John Maundeville,
From Malabar to Tartary they marvel at you still.
Old Aldrovandus drops a tear in envy fit to kill
Because we sing the praises of Sir John Maundeville.

V.

We're off across the hills today with merriment agog,
With pipe and timbrel ribboned gay, with fiddle-scrape and clog.
And in our pack we'll bring you back (I' faith, we swear we will!)
Mad tales and lays your ghost shall praise, Sir John Maundeville.

Oh, Sir John Maundeville, Sir John Maundeville,
The world that gaped at romance then shall gape at romance still.
There's portents in each autumn leaf, -- Vale Parlous o'er the hill, --
And our jolly dreamland captain is Sir John Maundeville!

So we march -- tramp! tramp! Do you wonder that our tread
Stamps up the ghosts of gallant knights from dust of days long dead?
When so the glad world's romance-clad, it's hail the romance scamp,
With old glories on our stories, and our march -- tramp! tramp!





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