Monday, June 01, 2020

The Latest, Loveliest Jest

by Clive Bell

They say you are the latest, loveliest jest
Of some transmigratory ghost,
The last embodiment, and best,
Of some small being—tell me, are you most
Yourself when most
A squirrel or jerboa?
Or rather,
Since you are tender, humorous, and wise,
Is yours the spirit of some steadier goer,
A grave, precautious donkey, whose wide eyes
See, far away, the thin ambiguous towers,
Nor miss the pebbly road nor truant flowers—
See farther,
And less painfully, than ours?
Or, as I think,
Have you, like some
Too curious spirit peering from the East,
O'erleant the ramparts or your little town
In Fairyland; and from the brink
Of The Impossible tumbled down
To where we now uneasily surmise
Your vagrant figure, trailing Sirenwise—
Strayed reveller, from some fairy banquet come
To sow sedition at our sober feast?