At The Sign Of The Lyre

A poem by Richard Le Gallienne

(To the Memory of Austin Dobson)

Master of the lyric inn
Where the rarer sort so long
Drew the rein, to 'scape the din
Of the cymbal and the gong,
Topers of the classic bin, -
Oporto, sherris and tokay,
Muscatel, and beaujolais -
Conning some old Book of Airs,
Lolling in their Queen Anne chairs -
Catch or glee or madrigal,
Writ for viol or virginal;
Or from France some courtly tune,
Gavotte, ridotto, rigadoon;
(Watteau and the rising moon);
Ballade, rondeau, triolet,
Villanelle or virelay,
Wistful of a statelier day,
Gallant, delicate, desire:
Where the Sign swings of the Lyre,
Garlands droop above the door,
Thou, dear Master, art no more.

Lo! about thy portals throng
Sorrowing shapes that loved thy song:
Taste and Elegance are there,
The modish Muses of Mayfair,
Wit, Distinction, Form and Style,
Humour, too, with tear and smile.

Fashion sends her butterflies -
Pretty laces to their eyes,
Ladies from St. James's there
Step out from the sedan chair;
Wigged and scented dandies too
Tristely wear their sprigs of rue;
Country squires are in the crowd,
And little Phyllida sobs aloud.

Then stately shades I seem to see,
Master, to companion thee;
Horace and Fielding here are come
To bid thee to Elysium.
Last comes one all golden: Fame
Calls thee, Master, by thy name,
On thy brow the laurel lays,
Whispers low - "In After Days."

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