Poem: The Maxim by Edmund Fisher


Of all the maxims I retain
Within the precincts of my brain
   There's one I'm quoting daily;
Which maxim of immortal truth,
Distasteful to my callow youth,
   Was uttered by Disraeli.

Lord Beasconsfield, as he became
(Beneath this English titled name
   His ancestry concealing).
Said lightly -- meaning to express
Love's attitude to lowliness --
   "Man serves a woman kneeling."

With passioned prayer and tender plaint
He pays his homage to the saint,
   And soulful sighs he heaves her:
But -- note the words I now repeat --
But "when he gets upon his feet
   He walks away," and leaves her.

The lady, though she storm or scoff,
Cannot prevent his walking off
   Abstractedly, or gaily;
The passion-flower is born to die,
And man is bound to justify
   The maxim of Disraeli.

It worried me when'er I knelt,
For, all the times, I always felt
   That soon I must be going;
And from one's knees it's hard to rise
If tears from sweet Belinda's eyes
   Are picturesquely flowing.

But as I knew we had to part,
The scruples in my honest heart
   I never failed to smother.
Such loves are holy. In the past
Each seemed more holy than the last --
   Then, why not try Another?

And were the lady staunch and true,
Or just a flirt, the sky was blue
   And all the hours were golden.
For love's divinest ecstacies
To her who kept him on his knees
   The lover was beholden.

Perchance the dream would sweetly end,
And she would call me "dearest friend,"
   Or treat me "as a brother,"
And softly speak with smile serene
Of all the raptures that had been --
   Then, why not chase Another?

Ah! like the moons that wax and wane,
The roses died and bloomed again,
   And fresh young charms each gal'ad.
Inflamed by new poetic fire
I gratified my new desire
   To write another ballad.

And now I lilt the easy lay
Of one who knelt, and walked away
   When love had spent its fever,
The maxim printed on my mind
Forbade me (who says Love is blind?)
   To be a self-deceiver.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 February 1909


I really enjoy this little time travel escapade with your Saturday morning poems. I think what you are doing here in your blog is wonderful and you are doing it so well too.

This is a beautifully made poem, very clever and complete. One could not accuse it of sentimentality, that's for sure, but could value its cautionary cynicism. Personally I appreciate the craft and try not to enter into the moral questions when reading a poem like this.

Most enjoyable ballad Disraeli, who lived within walking distance of where I live now, spelt it Beaconsfield, not as spelt in the verse. I don't know if the error was in the original Bulletin!

No, the error was caused by the typist - namely, me. I've now corrected the error. Thanks.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 28, 2009 7:57 AM.

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