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And men of learning, science, wit,
And all the while, with loose fat smile,
Though to be sure this place was Hell;
AMONG the guests who often stayed
He was a mighty poet and
A subtle-souled psychologist;
All things he seemed to understand
But his own mind, which was a mist.
This was a man who might have turned
Trusted, and damned himself to madness.
He spoke of poetry, and how
Divine it was “a light—a love— A spirit which like wind doth blow As it listeth, to and fro;
A dew rained down from God above;
"A power which comes and goes like dream,
And which none can ever trace
Heaven's light on earth-Truth's brightest beam." And when he ceased there lay the gleam
Of those words upon his face.
Now Peter, when he heard such talk,
At night he oft would start and wake
In a wild measure songs to make
And on the universal sky
And the wide earth's bosom green,—
And the sweet strange mystery
Of what beyond these things may lie,
And yet remain unseen.
For in his thought he visited
The spots in which, ere dead and damned,
He his wayward life had led;
Yet knew not whence the thoughts were fed
And these obscure remembrances
Stirred such harmony in Peter,
That, whensoever he should please,
For, though it was without a sense
He knew something of heath and fell.
He had also dim recollections
Of pedlars tramping on their rounds;
But Peter's verse was clear, and came
It augured to the earth :
Like gentle rains on the dry plains,
For language was in Peter's hand
Like clay while he was yet a potter ;
And he made songs for all the land
As pipkins late to mountain cotter.
Gave twenty pounds for some. Then, scorning A footman's yellow coat to wear,
Peter (too proud of heart, I fear)
Instantly gave the Devil warning.
Whereat the Devil took offence,
And swore in his soul a great oath then That for his damned impertinence He'd bring him to a proper sense
Of what was due to gentlemen!
"OH that mine enemy had written
'Twas galling to be critic-bitten:
The Devil to Peter wished no worse.
When Peter's next new book found vent, The Devil to all the first Reviews
A copy of it slily sent,
With five-pound note as compliment, And this short notice-"Pray abuse."
Then seriatim, month and quarter, Appeared such mad tirades!-One said: "Peter seduced Mrs. Foy's daughter; Then drowned the mother in Ullswater, The last thing as he went to bed."
Another: "Let him shave his head.
Where's Dr. Willis?-Or is he joking?
What does the rascal mean or hope,
No longer imitating Pope,
In that barbarian Shakspeare poking?"
One more: "Is incest not enough?
And must there be adultery too?
Grace after meat? Miscreant and liar!
"By that last book of yours WE think
You've double-damned yourself to scorn; We warned you whilst yet on the brink You stood. From your black name will shrink The babe that is unborn."
All these Reviews the Devil made
Untied them-read them-went half mad.
"What!” cried he, "this is my reward
For nights of thought, and days of toil?
Do poets, but to be abhorred
By men of whom they never heard,
Consume their spirits' oil?
"What have I done to them?—and who
Is Mrs. Foy? 'Tis very cruel
To speak of me and Betty so!
I've half a mind to fight a duel.
"Or," cried he, a grave look collecting,
For Peter did not know the town;
But thought, as country readers do,
For half a guinea or a crown
He bought oblivion or renown
From God's own voice in a review.