Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE YEAR TWENTY-SIX, by JAMES SMITH (1775-1839)



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THE YEAR TWENTY-SIX, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tis gone with its toys and its troubles
Last Line: And make me -- like thee -- twenty-six.
Subject(s): Plays & Playwrights; Time


'TIS gone with its toys and its troubles,
Its essays on cotton and corn,
Its laughing-stock company bubbles,
Its Cherry-ripe -- (music by Horn.)
'Tis gone, with its Catholic Question,
Its Shiels, its O'Connells, and Brics:
Time, finding it light of digestion,
Has swallow'd the Year Twenty-six.

I've penned a few private mementoes
Of schemes that I meant to effect,
Which, sure as I hobble on ten toes,
I vow'd I'd no longer neglect.
"My wits," I exclaim'd, "are receding,
'Tis time I their energies fix:
I'll write the town something worth reading,
To finish the Year Twenty-six."

My pamphlet, to tell Mr. Canning
The Czar has an eye on the Turk;
My treatise, to show Mr. Manning
The way to make currency work:
My essay, to prove to the nations
(As sure as wax-candles have wicks)
Greek bonds are not Greek obligations --
Were planned in the Year Twenty-six.

I sketched out a novel, where laughter
Should scare evangelic Tremaine,
Shake Brambletye House off its rafter,
And level Tor Hill with the plain.
Those volumes, as grave as my grandam,
I swore with my book to transfix:
'Twas called the New Roderick Random,
And meant for the Year Twenty-six.

My play had -- I'd have the town know it --
A part for Miss Elinor Tree;
At Drury I meant to bestow it
On Price, the gigantic lessee.
Resolved the fourth act to diminish,
('Tis there, I suspect, the plot sticks,)
I solemnly swore that I'd finish
The fifth, in the Year Twenty-six.

But somehow I thought the Haymarket
Was better for hearing by half,
To people who live near the Park it
Affords the best home for a laugh.
"There Liston," I muttered, "has taught'em
Mirth's balm in their bitters to mix:
I'll write such a part in the autumn
For him -- in the Year Twenty-six!"

I meant to complete my Italian --
('Tis done in a twelvemonth with ease,)
Nor longer, as mute as Pygmalion,
Hang over the ivory keys.
I meant to learn music, much faster
Than fellows at Eton learn tricks:
Vercellini might teach me to master
The notes, in the Year Twenty-six.

'Tis past, with its corn and its cotton,
Its shareholders broken and bit:
And where is my pamphlet? forgotten.
And where is my treatise? unwrit.
My essay, my play, and my novel,
Like so many Tumble-down Dicks,
All, all in inanity grovel --
Alas! for the Year Twenty-six.

My Haymarket farce is a bubble,
My Bocca Romana moves stiff,
I've spared Vercellini all trouble,
I don't even know the bass cliff.
My brain has (supine anti-breeder)
Neglected to hatch into chicks
Her offspring -- Pray how, gentle reader,
Thrive you for the Year Twenty-six?

George Whitfield, whom nobody mentions
Now Irving has got into fame,
Has paved with abortive intentions
A place too caloric to name.
I fear, if his masonry's real,
That mine have Macadamized Styx:
So empty, cloud-capped, and ideal,
My plans for the Year Twenty-six!

Past Year! if, to quash all evasions,
Thou 'dst have me with granite repair,
On good terra firma foundations,
My castles now nodding in air:
Bid Time from my brow steal his traces
(As Bardolph abstracted the Pix),
Run back on his road a few paces,
And make me -- like thee -- Twenty-six.





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