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Poetry of Amy Lowell
Sword Blades and Poppy Seed

The Foreigner

Have at you, you Devils!
 My back's to this tree,
For you're nothing so nice
 That the hind-side of me
Would escape your assault.
 Come on now, all three!

Here's a dandified gentleman,
 Rapier at point,
And a wrist which whirls round
 Like a circular joint.
A spatter of blood, man!
 That's just to anoint

And make supple your limbs.
 'Tis a pity the silk
Of your waistcoat is stained.
 Why!  Your heart's full of milk,
And so full, it spills over!
 I'm not of your ilk.

You said so, and laughed
 At my old-fashioned hose,
At the cut of my hair,
 At the length of my nose.
To carve it to pattern
 I think you propose.

Your pardon, young Sir,
 But my nose and my sword
Are proving themselves
 In quite perfect accord.
I grieve to have spotted
 Your shirt.  On my word!

And hullo!  You Bully!
 That blade's not a stick
To slash right and left,
 And my skull is too thick
To be cleft with such cuffs
 Of a sword.  Now a lick

Down the side of your face.
 What a pretty, red line!
Tell the taverns that scar
 Was an honour.  Don't whine
That a stranger has marked you.
     *    *    *    *    *
 The tree's there, You Swine!

Did you think to get in
 At the back, while your friends
Made a little diversion
 In front?  So it ends,
With your sword clattering down
 On the ground.  'Tis amends

I make for your courteous
 Reception of me,
A foreigner, landed
 From over the sea.
Your welcome was fervent
 I think you'll agree.

My shoes are not buckled
 With gold, nor my hair
Oiled and scented, my jacket's
 Not satin, I wear
Corded breeches, wide hats,
 And I make people stare!

So I do, but my heart
 Is the heart of a man,
And my thoughts cannot twirl
 In the limited span
'Twixt my head and my heels,
 As some other men's can.

I have business more strange
 Than the shape of my boots,
And my interests range
 From the sky, to the roots
Of this dung-hill you live in,
 You half-rotted shoots

Of a mouldering tree!
 Here's at you, once more.
You Apes!  You Jack-fools!
 You can show me the door,
And jeer at my ways,
 But you're pinked to the core.

And before I have done,
 I will prick my name in
With the front of my steel,
 And your lily-white skin
Shall be printed with me.
 For I've come here to win!