Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SWISS COTTAGE, by JAMES SMITH (1775-1839)



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THE SWISS COTTAGE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ye gastric graces of pall mall
Last Line: Is bright illumination.
Subject(s): Dreams; Fate; Youth; Nightmares; Destiny


"YE gastric graces of Pall Mall,
Fish, soup, and pate, fare ye well,
Give me some cot Helvetian,
Thither I fain my flight would wing,
Of clubs the abdicated king,
An uncrown'd Dioclesian."

Scarce had I thus petitioned Fate,
When lo! a card with lines so straight,
Arachne seemed to rule 'em,
Wooed me to fair Pastora's shrine --
An invitation out to dine
At Ivy Cottage, Fulham!

"'Tis well!" I cried. "At Wilt's control
Here Temperance will pass the bowl,
And Health rise up the winner,
Full well I know the classic spot --
Swiss is the scenery, Swiss the cot,
And Swiss, no doubt the dinner.

"Deal table; cloth as smooth as silk;
Brown loaf; an avalanche of milk;
At most a brace of rabbits;
Cheese, hard enough to pose a shark;
And water, 'clear as di'mond spark,'
To suit my Hindoo habits.

"Six three-legg'd stools, of antique shapes:
Ripe figs; a plate of purple grapes,
As sweet as honeysuckles;
A girl to wait, of buxom hue,
In dark-brown bodice, apron blue,
Red hose, and silver buckles."

Nought rose to sever lip and cup:
I came. Had Fanny Kelly up
The outside stair been skipping,
With three long plaits of braided hair,
'Twould seem the ipse locus where
Macready pierced the pippin.

But soon the inside put to rout
The dreams engender'd by the out;
Chintz chairs with sofa paddings;
Bright stoves, at war with humid damps;
Pianos; rosewood tables; lamps,
As brilliant as Aladdin's.

Fish, soup, and mutton, finely dress'd,
Adorned the board: a pleasant guest
Was placed my right and left on;
With dishes lateral, endued
With flavor to astonish Ude,
Lucullus, or Lord Sefton.

The party, 'mid the sound of corks,
(Although the bread was white; the forks
Were silver, not metallic,)
Seemed not to see the joke was this,
That, while the outside walls were Swiss,
The feast was Anglo-Gallic.

So, as in eastern song is shown,
Some sable, antiquated crone,
As wily as a bailiff,
Leads, blindfold, on his hands and knees,
Some youth, through alleys dark, to please
Great Haroun the Caliph.

The bandage gone, a blaze of light
Salutes his now enchanted sight;
He views a new creation:
Dim Bagdad totters to its fall,
A fairy palace smiles, and all
Is bright illumination.





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