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Best Famous Stone Faced Poems

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Written by Robert Browning | Create an image from this poem

Up At A Villa— Down In The City

 (As Distinguished by an Italian Person of Quality)

I

Had I but plenty of money, money enough and to spare,
The house for me, no doubt, were a house in the city-square;
Ah, such a life, such a life, as one leads at the window there!

II

Something to see, by Bacchus, something to hear, at least!
There, the whole day long, one's life is a perfect feast;
While up at a villa one lives, I maintain it, no more than a beast.
III Well now, look at our villa! stuck like the horn of a bull Just on a mountain's edge as bare as the creature's skull, Save a mere shag of a bush with hardly a leaf to pull! - I scratch my own, sometimes, to see if the hair's turned wool.
IV But the city, oh the city—the square with the houses! Why? They are stone-faced, white as a curd, there's something to take the eye! Houses in four straight lines, not a single front awry! You watch who crosses and gossips, who saunters, who hurries by: Green blinds, as a matter of course, to draw when the sun gets high; And the shops with fanciful signs which are painted properly.
V What of a villa? Though winter be over in March by rights, 'Tis May perhaps ere the snow shall have withered well off the heights: You've the brown ploughed land before, where the oxen steam and wheeze, And the hills over-smoked behind by the faint grey olive trees.
VI Is it better in May, I ask you? You've summer all at once; In a day he leaps complete with a few strong April suns.
'Mid the sharp short emerald wheat, scarce risen three fingers well, The wild tulip, at end of its tube, blows out its great red bell Like a thin clear bubble of blood, for the children to pick and sell.
VII Is it ever hot in the square? There's a fountain to spout and splash! In the shade it sings and springs; in the shine such foam-bows flash On the horses with curling fish-tails, that prance and paddle and pash Round the lady atop in her conch—fifty gazers do not abash, Though all that she wears is some weeds round her waist in a sort of sash! VIII All the year long at the villa, nothing to see though you linger, Except yon cypress that points like Death's lean lifted forefinger.
Some think fireflies pretty, when they mix in the corn and mingle, Or thrid the stinking hemp till the stalks of it seem a-tingle.
Late August or early September, the stunning cicala is shrill, And the bees keep their tiresome whine round the resinous firs on the hill.
Enough of the seasons,—I spare you the months of the fever and chill.
IX Ere opening your eyes in the city, the blessed church-bells begin: No sooner the bells leave off than the diligence rattles in: You get the pick of the news, and it costs you never a pin.
By and by there's the travelling doctor gives pills, lets blood, draws teeth; Or the Pulcinello-trumpet breaks up the market beneath.
At the post-office such a scene-picture—the new play, piping hot! And a notice how, only this morning, three liberal thieves were shot.
Above it, behold the Archbishop's most fatherly of rebukes, And beneath, with his crown and his lion, some little new law of the Duke's! Or a sonnet with flowery marge, to the Reverend Don So-and-so Who is Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Saint Jerome, and Cicero, "And moreover," (the sonnet goes rhyming,) "the skirts of Saint Paul has reached, Having preached us those six Lent-lectures more unctuous than ever he preached.
" Noon strikes,—here sweeps the procession! our Lady borne smiling and smart With a pink gauze gown all spangles, and seven swords stuck in her heart! Bang, whang, whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife; No keeping one's haunches still: it's the greatest pleasure in life.
X But bless you, it's dear—it's dear! fowls, wine, at double the rate.
They have clapped a new tax upon salt, and what oil pays passing the gate It's a horror to think of.
And so, the villa for me, not the city! Beggars can scarcely be choosers: but still—ah, the pity, the pity! Look, two and two go the priests, then the monks with cowls and sandals, And the penitents dressed in white shirts, a-holding the yellow candles; One, he carries a flag up straight, and another a cross with handles, And the Duke's guard brings up the rear, for the better prevention of scandals.
Bang, whang, whang goes the drum, tootle-te-tootle the fife.
Oh, a day in the city-square, there is no such pleasure in life!


Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

No More Music

 The Porch was blazoned with geranium bloom;
Myrtle and jasmine meadows lit the lea;
With rose and violet the vale's perfume
Languished to where the hyacinthine sea
Dreamed tenderly .
.
.
"And I must go," said he.
He spoke in that dim, ghostly voice of his: "I was a singer; then the Was .
.
.
and GAS.
" (I had to lean to him, no word to miss.
) "We bought this little café nigh to Grasse; With sun and flowers my last few days will pass.
"And music too.
I have my mandolin: Say! Maybe you can strum on your guitar .
.
.
Come on - we two will make melodious din, While Madame sings to us behind the bar: You'll see how sweet Italian folk-songs are.
" So he would play and I would thrum the while; I used to there every lovely day; His wife would listen with a sunny smile, And when I left: "Please come again," she'd say.
"He seems quite sad when you have one away.
" Alas! I had to leave without good-bye, And lived in sooty cities for ayear.
Oh, how my heart ached for that happy sky! Then, then one day my café I drew near - God! it was strange how I was gripped with fear.
So still it was; I saw no mandolin, No gay guitar with ribbons blue and red; Then all in black, stone-faced the wife came in .
.
.
I did not ask; I looked, she shook her head: "La musique est fini," was all she said.