(Poem #1711) Rhymes (?)
My life -- to Discontent a prey -- Is in the sere and yellow leaf. 'Tis vain for happiness to pray: No solace brings my heart relief. My pulse is weak, my spirit low; I cannot think, I cannot write. I strive to spin a verse -- but lo! My rhymes are very rarely right. I sit within my lowly cell, And strive to court the comic Muse; But how can Poesy excel, With such a row from yonder mews? In accents passionately high The carter chides the stubborn horse; And shouts a 'Gee!' or yells a 'Hi!' In tones objectionably hoarse. In vain for Poesy I wait; No comic Muse my call obeys. My brains are loaded with a weight That mocks the laurels and the bays. I wish my brains could only be Inspired with industry anew; And labour like the busy bee, In strains no Genius ever knew. Although I strive with all my might, Alas, my efforts all are vain! I've no afflatus -- not a mite; I cannot work the comic vein. The Tragic Muse may hear my pleas, And waft me to a purer clime. Melpomene! assist me, please, To somewhat higher heights to climb.
As Calverley noted in "Lovers and a Reflection", "Rhymes are so scarce in this world of ours" - and, oft and anon, the hard-worked poet's natural frustration with the state of affairs spills over into verse. Here Leigh takes a simple idea and spins it into a neat bit of self-referential verse - so neat, in fact, that his use of homophones in place of proper rhymes is not instantly obvious. (The abab rather than aabb rhyme scheme helps somewhat.) On the flip side, while self referential poetry is a rich and oft-tapped source of comic verse, the effect is far likelier to be mild amusement than hilarity, and the poem itself is seldom memorable. Calverley's "Lovers and a Reflection" is an exception, I'll admit, but more due to its quotability than its funniness; today's poem, on the other hand, is irretrievably Minor. Still, that is no real fault, especially in a piece of light verse like today's - I derived a moment of amusement from reading it, and Leigh doubtless derived an equal satisfaction from its composition. martin Biography: Leigh, Henry Sambrooke (1837-1883), English poet. If anyone has a more extensive biography, please write in.