Outward Bound.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson


"Quid fles, Asterie, quem tibi candidi
Primo restituent vere Favonii--

Come, Laura, patience. Time and Spring
Your absent Arthur back shall bring,
Enriched with many an Indian thing
Once more to woo you;
Him neither wind nor wave can check,
Who, cramped beneath the "Simla's" deck,
Still constant, though with stiffened neck,
Makes verses to you.

Would it were wave and wind alone!
The terrors of the torrid zone,
The indiscriminate cyclone,
A man might parry;
But only faith, or "triple brass,"
Can help the "outward-bound" to pass
Safe through that eastward-faring class
Who sail to marry.

For him fond mothers, stout and fair,
Ascend the tortuous cabin stair
Only to hold around his chair
Insidious sessions;
For him the eyes of daughters droop
Across the plate of handed soup,
Suggesting seats upon the poop,
And soft confessions.

Nor are these all his pains, nor most.
Romancing captains cease to boast--
Loud majors leave their whist--to roast
The youthful griffin;
All, all with pleased persistence show
His fate,--"remote, unfriended, slow,"--
His "melancholy" bungalow,--
His lonely tiffin.

In vain. Let doubts assail the weak;
Unmoved and calm as "Adam's Peak,"
Your "blameless Arthur" hears them speak
Of woes that wait him;
Naught can subdue his soul secure;
"Arthur will come again," be sure,
Though matron shrewd and maid mature
Conspire to mate him.

But, Laura, on your side, forbear
To greet with too impressed an air
A certain youth with chestnut hair,--
A youth unstable;
Albeit none more skilled can guide
The frail canoe on Thamis tide,
Or, trimmer-footed, lighter glide
Through "Guards" or "Mabel."

Be warned in time. Without a trace
Of acquiescence on your face,
Hear, in the waltz's breathing-space,
His airy patter;
Avoid the confidential nook;
If, when you sing, you find his look
Grow tender, close your music-book,
And end the matter.

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