Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE WANDERER: 3. IN ENGLAND: MIDGES, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE WANDERER: 3. IN ENGLAND: MIDGES, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: She is talking aesthetics, the dear clever creature!
Last Line: O you dear clever woman, explain it, I beg!
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): England; Flies; Travel; English; Journeys; Trips

SHE is talking aesthetics, the dear clever creature!
Upon Man, and his functions, she speaks with a smile.
Her ideas are divine upon Art, upon Nature,
The Sublime, the Heroic, and Mr. Carlyle.

I no more am found worthy to join in the talk, now;
So I follow with my surreptitious cigar;
While she leads our poetical friend up the walk, now,
Who quotes Wordsworth and praises her "Thoughts on a Star."

Meanwhile, there is dancing in yonder green bower
A swarm of young midges. They dance high and low.
'T is a sweet little species that lives but one hour,
And the eldest was born half an hour ago.

One impulsive young midge I hear ardently pouring
In the ears of a shy little wanton in gauze,
His eternal devotion; his ceaseless adoring;
Which shall last till the Universe breaks from its laws:

His passion is not, he declares, the mere fever
Of a rapturous moment. It knows no control:
It will burn in his breast through existence forever,
Immutably fixed in the deeps of the soul!

She wavers: she flutters: ...male midges are fickle:
Dare she trust him her future? ...she asks with a sigh:
He implores, ...and a tear is beginning to trickle:
She is weak: they embrace, and...the lovers pass by.

While they pass me, down here on a rose leaf has lighted
A pale midge, his feelers all drooping and torn:
His existence is withered; its future is blighted:
His hopes are betrayed: and his breast is forlorn.

By the midge his heart trusted his heart is deceived, now
In the virtue of midges no more he believes:
From love in its falsehood, once wildly believed, now
He will bury his desolate life in the leaves.

His friends would console him...the noblest and sagest
Of midges have held that a midge lives again.
In Eternity, say they, the strife thou now wagest
With sorrow shall cease...but their words are in vain!

Can Eternity bring back the seconds now wasted
In hopeless desire? or restore to his breast
The belief he has lost, with the bliss he once tasted,
Embracing the midge that his being loved best?

His friends would console him...life yet is before him;
Many hundred long seconds he still has to live:
In the state yet a mighty career spreads before him:
Let him seek in the great world of action to strive!

There is Fame! there's Ambition! and, grander than either,
There is Freedom! ...the progress and march of the race! ...
But to Freedom his breast beats no longer, and neither
Ambition nor action her loss can replace.

If the time had been spent in acquiring aesthetics
I have squandered in learning this language of midges,
There might, for my friend in her peripatetics,
Have been now two asses to help o'er the bridges.

As it is, ...I'll report her the whole conversation.
It would have been longer; but, somehow or other
(In the midst of that misanthrope's long lamentation),
A midge in my right eye became a young mother.

Since my friend is so clever, I'll ask her to tell me
Why the least living thing (a mere midge in the egg!)
Can make a man's tears flow, as now it befell me...
O you dear clever woman, explain it, I beg!

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