Poem: The Feast of Life by Louis Esson

      "The Pride of Life has ceased;
      Life is no more a Feast,
A banquet that the Pagan gods provide."
      So in a chamber bare,
      Upon an attic stair,
The Poet penned his lurid ode with pride.

      "Vixi." He dipped his pen
      In purple ink, and then
Wrote: "Semiramis I have looked upon,
      Seen wall o'er high wall rise
      Until the threatened skies,
And hanging gardens ranged round Babylon.

      "At Athens, Carthage, Tyre,
      I gratified desire;
In beaked Phoenician ships I made my way.
      In Egypt, by old Nile,
      I learned the Sphinx's guile,
And I have flung the dice in Nineveh.

      "The world grows drab and grey,
      But I have had my day.
The Golden House of Nero was my home.
      Once, when the Eagles soared
      And Caesar's legions roared,
I wore the purple of Imperial Rome.

      "Of Joy appointed Priest
      I spread the gorgeous Feast
Of peacocks' brains and tongues of nightingales.
      Flower crowned, drank Coan wine
      In festivals divine
At thought of which the stoutest stomach quails,

      "On silken couch reclined
      Like gods we lay and dined,
Refreshed with Dacian combat, Grecian song;
      On ladders dwarfs tossed balls,
      Birds sang round frescoed walls,
And Syrian damsels swayed to flute and gong.

      "What cared I that the flood
      Of Time was choked with blood
When Martial mocked, and Ovid tales did spin?
      Their verses crooned that bliss is
      But roses, wine and kisses,
What though the Stoic Schools which deem it sin!

      "The List of Life is done.
      We turn beneath the Sun
Bound to the iron wheel of Circumstance.
      But poets yet shall rise
      To offer sacrifice
Within the smoking temples of Romance.

      "Drag to the dust cold Truth
      That, pledged to recless Youth.
Of Pleasure I be King; of Sun, High Priest.
      Yea, I would rule once more
      A Roman Emporer,
Though all the world were butchered for one Feast."

      The youth disbursed his rent,
      Then brushed his hair, and went
To find a place where food was not too dear.
      A waitress came; and shy
      He stammered, said he'd try
A bath bun, and a glass of ginger beer.

First published in The Bulletin, 9 July 1908

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 20, 2008 11:33 AM.

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