Envoy - To Charles Baxter

A poem by William Ernest Henley

Do you remember
That afternoon - that Sunday afternoon! -
When, as the kirks were ringing in,
And the grey city teemed
With Sabbath feelings and aspects,
LEWIS - our LEWIS then,
Now the whole world's - and you,
Young, yet in shape most like an elder, came,
Laden with BALZACS
(Big, yellow books, quite impudently French),
The first of many times
To that transformed back-kitchen where I lay
So long, so many centuries -
Or years is it! - ago?

Dear CHARLES, since then
We have been friends, LEWIS and you and I,
(How good it sounds, 'LEWIS and you and I!'):
Such friends, I like to think,
That in us three, LEWIS and me and you,
Is something of that gallant dream
Which old DUMAS - the generous, the humane,
The seven-and-seventy times to be forgiven! -
Dreamed for a blessing to the race,
The immortal Musketeers.

Our ATHOS rests - the wise, the kind,
The liberal and august, his fault atoned,
Rests in the crowded yard
There at the west of Princes Street. We three -
You, I, and LEWIS! - still afoot,
Are still together, and our lives,
In chime so long, may keep
(God bless the thought!)
Unjangled till the end.

W. E. H.

CHISWICK, March 1888

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