The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. - Mark Twain
* * *
It's wintertime and cold. A long day is before me.
The servant brings my tea. "How is the weather - stormy
Or has the blizzard stilled?" I ask him. "And the snow -
Right for the hunt, I hope? If not, then tell me so!..
Now, is it bed or saddle?.. Wait, I know what's coming:
You'll tell me I'm to sit indoors till dinner, thumbing
Through these outdated sheets... No? Then - to horse!"-
With dawn's first light are off across the empty lea.
We're holding riding crops, our hounds the horses follow;
Our eyes are on the ground, each drift, each snowy hollow
We patiently inspect, then, circling, scour the grove,
And, two hares bagged, ride home... The hour is late, by Jove!..
Now night crawls up... What cheer!.. The wind howls. On the
A lonely candle smokes. The heart aches, is unable
To cast off sudden gloom... Of boredom drop by drop
The baneful brew I drink... At random picking up
A book, I scan a page... My thoughts are far, and, closing
The volume, for a pen I listless search... She's dozing,
My Muse is, and from her I can but force a few
Inane and dismal words, a shapeless phrase or two...
My wayward servant Rhyme ignores my goading... Dull are
The lines that slowly form, cold, nebulous, of colour
Bereft... The lyre is mute...
By our long match worn out,
I join the rest downstairs... What is the talk about?..
Of course!- The sugar mill, and the elections, whether
They'll soon be held or not... As sulky as the weather
Our hostess is, she frowns the while her needles fly,
Or at the King of Hearts stares with a doubtful eye.
Was ever man so bored! The days run on unending,
In weary solitude... But should, when I am spending
Over a game of draughts an hour or sometimes more,
My neighbour's covered sleigh at dusk stop at my door
And bring three welcome guests: two sisters and their mother -
The girls are fair and slight and very like each other -
Then bubbling, sparkling life, I willingly confess,
Comes to my lone retreat, my distant wilderness!..
At first a casual look, then, one less cool, less guarded,
Then some few words exchanged, then, all reserve discarded,
Long conversations, laughter, songs by candlelight,
Games, dancing, talk with questions that invite
Hushed, meaningful replies and coy and languid glances,
And, on a narrow staircase, murmured confidences...
Night's coming to the porch a young maid brings. She stands
There shyly, bosom bare... The storm fine snowflakes senda|
Into her face. But see - the northern winds hard-blowing
Can do the Russian rose no harm: her cheeks are glowing, |
On her lips kisses flame; fresh stays she mid the snows!