The Maid of the
Meeerschaum


(SWINBURNE)








Nude nymph, when from Neuberg's' I led her
In velvet enshrined and encased,
When with raret Virginia I fed her,
And pampered each maidenly taste
On 'Old Judge' and 'Lone Jack' and brown 'Bird's-eye
The best that a mortal might get—
Did she know how, from whiteness of curds,
I Should tum her to jet?

She was blond and impassive and stately
When first our acquaintance began,
When she smiled from the pipe-bowl sedately
On the 'Stunt' who was scarcely a man.
But labuntur annifugaces,
And changed in due season were we,
For she wears the blackest of faces,
And I'm a D.C.

Unfailing the comfort she gave me
In the days when I owned to a heart,
When the charmers that used to enslave me
For Home or the Hills would depart.
She was Polly or Agnes or Kitty
(Whoever pro tem was my flame),
And I found her most ready to pity,
And—always the same.

At dawn, when the pig broke from cover,
At noon, when the pleaders were met,
She clung to the lips of her lover
As never live maiden did yet;
At the Bund, when I waited the far light
That brought me my mails o'er the main—
At night, when the tents, in the starlight,
Showed white on the plain.

And now, though each finely cut feature
Is flattened and polished away,
I hold her the loveliest creature
That ever was fashioned from clay.
Let an epitaph thus, then, be wrought for
Her tomb, when the smash shall arrive:
'Hic jacet the life's love I bought for
Rupees twenty-five.'