The Limbo Of Lost Reputations. A Dream.

A poem by Thomas Moore

"Cio che si perde qui, là si raguna."
ARIOSTO.

"---a valley, where he sees
Things that on earth were lost."
MILTON.


1828.


Knowest thou not him[1] the poet sings,
Who flew to the moon's serene domain,
And saw that valley where all the things,
That vanish on earth are found again--
The hopes of youth, the resolves of age,
The vow of the lover, the dream of the sage,
The golden visions of mining cits,
The promises great men strew about them;
And, packt in compass small, the wits
Of monarchs who rule as well without them!--
Like him, but diving with wing profound,
I have been to a Limbo underground,
Where characters lost on earth, (and cried,
In vain, like Harris's, far and wide,)
In heaps like yesterday's orts, are thrown
And there, so worthless and flyblown
That even the imps would not purloin them,
Lie till their worthy owners join them.

Curious it was to see this mass
Of lost and torn-up reputations;--
Some of them female wares, alas!
Mislaid at innocent assignations;
Some, that had sighed their last amen
From the canting lips of saints that would be;
And some once owned by "the best of men,"
Who had proved-no better than they should be.
'Mong others, a poet's fame I spied,
Once shining fair, now soakt and black--
"No wonder" (an imp at my elbow cried),
"For I pickt it out of a butt of sack!"

Just then a yell was heard o'er head,
Like a chimney-sweeper's lofty summons;
And lo! a devil right downward sped,
Bringing within his claws so red
Two statesmen's characters, found, he said,
Last night, on the floor of the House of Commons;
The which, with black official grin,
He now to the Chief Imp handed in;--
Both these articles much the worse
For their journey down, as you may suppose;
But one so devilish rank--"Odd's curse!".
Said the Lord Chief Imp, and held his nose.
"Ho, ho!" quoth he, "I know full well
"From whom these two stray matters fell;"--
Then, casting away, with loathful shrug,
The uncleaner waif (as he would a drug
The Invisible's own dark hand had mixt),
His gaze on the other[2] firm he fixt,
And trying, tho' mischief laught in his eye,
To be moral because of the young imps by,
"What a pity!" he cried--"so fresh its gloss,
"So long preserved--'tis a public loss!
"This comes of a man, the careless blockhead,
"Keeping his character in his pocket;
"And there--without considering whether
"There's room for that and his gains together--
"Cramming and cramming and cramming away,
"Till--out slips character some fine day!

"However"--and here he viewed it round--
"This article still may pass for sound.
"Some flaws, soon patched, some stains are all
"The harm it has had in its luckless fall.
"Here, Puck!" and he called to one of his train--
"The owner may have this back again.
"Tho' damaged for ever, if used with skill,
"It may serve perhaps to trade on still;
"Tho' the gem can never as once be set,
"It will do for a Tory Cabinet."

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