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Poems of Andrew Lang



GAINSBOROUGH GHOSTS -- IN THE GROSVENOR GALLERY



They smile upon the western wall,
The lips that laughed an age agone,
The fops, the dukes, the beauties all,
Le Brun that sang, and Carr that shone.
We gaze with idle eyes: we con
The faces of an elder time -
Alas! and OURS is flitting on;
Oh, moral for an empty rhyme!

Think, when the tumult and the crowd
Have left the solemn rooms and chill,
When dilettanti are not loud,
When lady critics are not shrill -
Ah, think how strange upon the still
Dim air may sound these voices faint;
Once more may Johnson talk his fill
And fair Dalrymple charm the Saint!

Of us they speak as we of them,
Like us, perchance, they criticise:
Our wit, they vote, is Brummagem;
Our beauty--dim to Devon's eyes!
Their silks and lace our cloth despise,
Their pumps--our boots that pad the mud,
What modern fop with Walpole vies?
With St. Leger what modern blood?

Ah, true, we lack the charm, the wit,
Our very greatest, sure, are small;
And Mr. Gladstone is not Pitt,
And Garrick comes not when we call.
Yet--pass an age--and, after all,
Even WE may please the folk that look
When we are faces on the wall,
And voices in a history book!

In Art the statesman yet shall live,
With collars keen, with Roman nose;
To Beauty yet shall Millais give
The roses that outlast the rose:
The lords of verse, the slaves of prose,
On canvas yet shall seem alive,
And charm the mob that comes and goes,
And lives--in 1985.