Amy Lowell |
The nursery fire burns brightly, crackling in cheerful
and trails of sparks up the back of the chimney.
peppering the black bricks with golden stars, as though a gala
flamed a night of victorious wars.
The nodding mandarin on the bookcase moves his
head forward and back, slowly,
and looks into the air with his blue-green eyes.
into the air
and nods -- forward and back.
The red rose in his hand
is a crimson splash
on his yellow coat.
Forward and back, and his blue-green
into the air, and he nods -- nods.
Tommy's soldiers march to battle,
Trumpets flare and snare-drums rattle.
Bayonets flash, and sabres glance --
How the horses snort and prance!
Cannon drawn up in a line
Glitter in the dizzy shine
Of the morning sunlight.
Ripple colours in great jags.
Red blows out, then blue, then green,
Then all three -- a weaving sheen
Of prismed patriotism.
Tommy's soldiers, stiff and starch,
Boldly stepping to the rattle
Of the drums, they go to battle.
Tommy lies on his stomach on the floor and directs his columns.
He puts his infantry in front, and before them ambles a mounted
Their instruments make a strand of gold before the scarlet-tunicked
and they take very long steps on their little green platforms,
and from the ranks bursts the song of Tommy's soldiers marching
The song jolts a little as the green platforms stick on the thick
Tommy wheels his guns round the edge of a box of blocks, and places
a squad of cavalry on the commanding eminence of a footstool.
The fire snaps pleasantly, and the old Chinaman nods -- nods.
the red rose in his hand glow and twist.
is a bold song
Tommy's soldiers sing as they march along to battle.
Crack! Rattle! The sparks
fly up the chimney.
Tommy's army's off to war --
Not a soldier knows what for.
But he knows about his rifle,
How to shoot it, and a trifle
Of the proper thing to do
When it's he who is shot through.
Like a cleverly trained flea,
He can follow instantly
Orders, and some quick commands
Really make severe demands
On a mind that's none too rapid,
Leaden brains tend to the vapid.
But how beautifully dressed
Is this army! How impressed
Tommy is when at his heel
All his baggage wagons wheel
About the patterned carpet, and
Moving up his heavy guns
He sees them glow with diamond suns
Flashing all along each barrel.
And the gold and blue apparel
Of his gunners is a joy.
Tommy is a lucky boy.
Boom! Boom! Ta-ra!
The old mandarin nods under his purple umbrella.
rose in his hand
shoots its petals up in thin quills of crimson.
and shrivel like red embers.
The fire sizzles.
Tommy is galloping his cavalry, two by two, over the floor.
the open terror of the door and gain the enemy encamped under the
The mounted band is very grand, playing allegro and leading the
at the double quick.
The tassel of the hearth-rug has
the bass-drum, and he and his dapple-grey horse lie overtripped,
slipped out of line, with the little lead drumsticks glistening
to the fire's shine.
The fire burns and crackles, and tickles the tripped
with its sparkles.
The marching army hitches its little green platforms
valiantly, and steadily
approaches the door.
The overturned bass-drummer, lying
on the hearth-rug,
melting in the heat, softens and sheds tears.
at his impotence, and flaunts the glory of the martial and still
vaunting the deeds it will do.
For are not Tommy's soldiers
all bright and new?
Tommy's leaden soldiers we,
Glittering with efficiency.
Not a button's out of place,
Tons and tons of golden lace
Wind about our officers.
Every manly bosom stirs
At the thought of killing -- killing!
Tommy's dearest wish fulfilling.
We are gaudy, savage, strong,
And our loins so ripe we long
First to kill, then procreate,
Doubling so the laws of Fate.
On their women we have sworn
To graft our sons.
They'll rear us younger soldiers, so
Shall our race endure and grow,
Waxing greater in the wombs
Borrowed of them, while damp tombs
Rot their men.
O Glorious War!
Goad us with your points, Great Star!
The china mandarin on the bookcase nods slowly, forward and back
forward and back -- and the red rose writhes and wriggles,
thrusting its flaming petals under and over one another like tortured
The fire strokes them with its dartles, and purrs
and the old man nods.
Tommy does not hear the song.
He only sees the beautiful,
gaily-coloured lead soldiers.
They belong to him, and
he is very proud
He shouts his orders aloud, and gallops his
cavalry past the door
to the wash-stand.
He creeps over the floor on his hands
to one battalion and another, but he sees only the bright colours
of his soldiers and the beautiful precision of their gestures.
He is a lucky boy to have such fine lead soldiers to enjoy.
Tommy catches his toe in the leg of the wash-stand, and jars the
He snatches at it with his hands, but it is too late.
and as it goes, he sees the white water flow over its lip.
between his fingers and crashes to the floor.
is not water which oozes
to the door.
The stain is glutinous and dark, a spark
from the firelight
heads it to red.
In and out, between the fine, new soldiers,
licking over the carpet, squirms the stream of blood, lapping at
the little green platforms, and flapping itself against the painted
The nodding mandarin moves his head slowly, forward and back.
The rose is broken, and where it fell is black blood.
old mandarin leers
under his purple umbrella, and nods -- forward and back, staring
into the air
with blue-green eyes.
Every time his head comes forward
a rosebud pushes
between his lips, rushes into full bloom, and drips to the ground
with a splashing sound.
The pool of black blood grows
with each dropped rose, and spreads out to join the stream from
The beautiful army of lead soldiers steps
but the little green platforms are covered in the rising stream
The nursery fire burns brightly and flings fan-bursts of stars up
as though a gala flamed a night of victorious wars.
William Topaz McGonagall |
'Twas in the year of 1884, and on Saturday the 20th of September,
Which the inhabitants of Dundee will long remember
The great Liberal Franchise Demonstration,
Which filled their minds with admiration.
Oh! it was a most magnificent display,
To see about 20 or 30 thousand men all in grand array;
And each man with a medal on his breast;
And every man in the procession dressed in his best.
The banners of the processionists were really grand to see-
The like hasn't been seen for a long time in Dundee;
While sweet music from the bands did rend the skies,
And every processionist was resolved to vote for the Franchise.
And as the procession passed along each street,
The spectators did loudly the processionists greet;
As they viewed their beautiful banners waving in the wind,
They declared such a scene would be ever fresh in their mind.
The mustering of the processionists was very grand,
As along the Esplanade each man took his stand,
And as soon as they were marshalled in grand array,
To the Magdalen Green, in haste, they wended their way.
And when they arrived on the Magdalen Green,
I'm sure it was a very beautiful imposing scene-
While the cheers of that vast multitude ascended to the skies,
For the "Grand Old Man," Gladstone, the Hero of the Franchise,
Who has struggled very hard for the people's rights,
Many long years, and many weary nights;
And I think the "Grand Old Man" will gain the Franchise,
And if he does, the people will laud him to the skies.
And his name should be written in letters of gold :
For he is a wise statesman- true and bold-
Who has advocated the people's rights for many long years;
And when he is dead they will thank him with their tears.
For he is the man for the working man,
And without fear of contradiction, deny it who can;
Because he wishes the working man to have a good coat,
And, both in town and country, to have power to vote.
The reason why the Lords won't pass the Franchise Bill :
They fear that it will do themselves some ill;
That is the reason why they wish to throw it out,
Yes, believe me, fellow citizens, that's the cause without doubt.
The emblems and mottoes in the procession, were really grand,
The like hasn't been seen in broad Scotland;
Especially the picture of Gladstone- the nation's hope,
Who is a much cleverer man than Sir John Cope.
There were masons and ploughmen all in a row,
Also tailors, tenters, and blacksmiths, which made a grand show;
Likewise carters and bakers which was most beautiful to be seen,
To see them marching from the Esplanade to the Magdalen Green.
I'm sure it was a most beautiful sight to see,
The like has never been seen before in Dundee;
Such a body of men, and Gladstone at the helm,
Such a sight, I'm sure, 'twould the Lords o'erwhelm.
Oh! it was grand to see that vast crowd,
And to hear the speeches, most eloquent and loud,
That were made by the speakers, regarding the Franchise;
While the spectators applauded them to the skies.
And for the "Grand Old Man" they gave three cheers,
Hoping he would live for many long years;
And when the speeches were ended, the people's hearts were gay,
And they all dispersed quietly to their homes without delay.