the Tea-table



Tho' all unknown to Greek and Roman song,

The paler hyson and the dark souchong,

Tho' black nor green the warbled praises share

Of knightly troubadour or gay trouv?re,

Yet deem not thou, an alien quite to numbers,

That friend to prattle and that foe to slumbers,

Which Kian-Long, imperial poet, praised

So high that, cent per cent, its price was raised;

Which Pope himself would sometimes condescend

To place commodious at a couplet's end;

Which the sweet Bard of Olney did not spurn,

Who loved the music of the hissing urn.

. . .

For the dear comforts of domestic tea

Are sung too well to stand in need of me

By Cowper and the Bard of Rimini;

Besides, I hold it as a special grace

When such a theme is old and commonplace.

The cheering lustre of the new-stirr'd fire,

The mother's summons to the dozing sire,

The whispers audible that oft intrude

On the forced silence of the younger brood,

The seniors' converse, seldom over new,

Where quiet dwells and strange events are few,

The blooming daughter's ever-ready smile,

So full of meaning and so void of guile.

And all the little mighty things that cheer

The closing day from quiet year to year,

I leave to those whom benignant fate

Or merit destines to the wedded state.

. . .

'Tis woman still that makes or mars the man.

And so it is, the creature can beguile

The fairest faces of the readiest smile.

The third who comes the hyson to inhale,

If not a man, at least appears a male.

. . .

Last of the rout, and dogg'd with public cares,

The politician stumbles up the stairs;

Whose dusky soul nor beauty can illume,

Nor wine dispel his patriotic gloom.

In restless ire from guest to guest he goes,

And names us all among our country's foes;

Swears 'tis a shame that we should drink our tea,

'Till wrongs are righted and the nation free,

That priests and poets are a venal race,

Who preach for patronage and rhyme for place;

Declares that boys and girls should not be cooing.

When England's hope is bankruptcy and ruin;

That wiser 'twere the coming wrath to fly,

And that old women should make haste to die.



Condensed from a poem published in Fraser's Magazine,

January, 1857, and ascribed to Hartley Coleridge.





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