Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE EIGHT-DAY CLOCK, by ALFRED COCHRANE



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THE EIGHT-DAY CLOCK, by            
First Line: The days of bute and grafton's fame
Last Line: Sedately to and fro.
Subject(s): Clocks; Time


THE days of Bute and Grafton's fame,
Of Chatham's waning prime,
First heard your sounding gong proclaim
Its chronicle of Time;
Old days when Dodd confessed his guilt,
When Goldsmith drave his quill,
And genial gossip Horace built
His house on Strawberry Hill.

Now with a grave unmeaning face
You still repeat the tale,
High-towering in your sombre case,
Designed by Chippendale;
Without regret for what is gone,
You bid old customs change,
As year by year you travel on
To scenes and voices strange.

We might have mingled with the crowd
Of courtiers in this hall,
The fans that swayed, the wigs that bowed,
But you have spoiled it all;
We might have lingered in the train
Of nymphs that Reynolds drew,
Or stared spell-bound in Drury Lane
At Garrick—but for you.

We might in Leicester Fields have swelled
The throng of beaux and cits,
Or listened to the concourse held
Among the Kitcat wits;
Have strolled with Selwyn in Pall Mall,
Arrayed in gorgeous silks,
Or in Great George Street raised a yell
For Liberty and Wilkes.

This is the life which you have known,
Which you have ticked away,
In one unmoved unfaltering tone
That ceased not day by day,
While ever round your dial moved
Your hands from span to span,
Through drowsy hours and hours that proved
Big with the fate of man.

A steady tick for fatal creeds,
For youth on folly bent,
A steady tick for worthy deeds,
And moments wisely spent;
No warning note of emphasis,
No whisper of advice,
No ruined rake or flippant miss,
For coquetry or dice.

You might, I think, have hammered out
With meaning doubly clear,
The midnight of a Vauxhall rout
In Evelina's ear;
Or when the night was almost gone,
You might, the deals between,
Have startled those who looked upon
The cloth when it was green.

But no, in all the vanished years
Down which your wheels have run,
Your message borne to heedless ears
Is one and only one—
No wit of men, no power of kings,
Can stem the overthrow
Wrought by this pendulum that swings
Sedately to and fro.





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