“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
While cleaning my old six-branched candelabrum
(Which disconnects in four and twenty parts)
I think how other hands its brass have brightened
And wonder what was happening in their hearts:
I wonder what they mused about - those ghosts -
In what habitual prosy-morning’d places,
Who furbished these reflections, humming softly
With unperplexed or trouble-trodden faces.
While rubbing up the ring by which one lifts it,
I visualise some Queen Anne country squire
Guiding a guest from dining-room to parlour
Where port and filberts wait them by the fire:
Or - in the later cosmos of Miss Austen -
Two spinsters, wavering shadows on a wall,
Conferring volubly about Napoleon
And what was worn at the Assembly Ball.
Then, thought-reverting to the man who made it
With long-apprenticed unpresuming skill,
When earth was yet unwarned of Electricity
And rush-lights gave essential service still,
I meditate upon mankind’s advancement
From flint sparks into million-volted glare
That shows us everything except the future-
And leaves us not much wiser than we were.
Dim lights have had their day; wax candles even”
Produce a conscious ‘period atmosphere’.
But brass out-twinkles time; my candelabrum
Persists well on toward its three hundredth year,
And has illuminated, one might say,
Much vista’d history, many vanished lives…
Meanwhile for me, outside my open window,
The twilight blackbird flutes, and spring arrives.
“A classic is something everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read.”
“A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.”