(To A. L.)
The shopman shambled from the doorway out
And twitched it down--
Snapped in the blade! 'Twas scarcely dear, I doubt,
Useless enough! And yet can still be seen,
In letters clear,
Traced on the metal's rusty damaskeen--
Whose was it once?--Who manned it once in hope
His fate to gain?
Who was it dreamed his oyster-world should ope
To this--in vain?
Maybe with some stout Argonaut it sailed
The Western Seas;
Maybe but to some paltry Nym availed
For toasting cheese!
Or decked by Beauty on some morning lawn
With silken knot,
Perchance, ere night, for Church and King 'twas drawn--
Perchance 'twas not!
Who knows--or cares? To-day, 'mid foils and gloves
Its hilt depends,
Flanked by the favours of forgotten loves,--
And oft its legend lends, in hours of stress,
A word to aid;
Or like a warning comes, in puffed success,
Its broken blade.