The Bird and the Bell, with Other Poems (Boston: James R, Osgood, 1875): 55-58. Internet Archive
1There's a lodger lives on the first floor;
2 (My lodgings are up in the garret;)
3At night and at morn he taketh a horn,
4 And calleth his neighbors to share it, --
5A horn so long and a horn so strong,
6 I wonder how they can bear it.
7I don't mean to say that he drinks, --
8 I might be indicted for scandal.
9But every one knows it, he night and day blows it,
10 (I wish he'd blow out like a candle!)
11His horn is so long, and he blows it so strong,
12 He would make Handel fly off the handle.
13By taking a horn I don't hint
14 That he swigs either rum, gin, or whiskey.
15It's we, I am thinking, condemned to be drinking
16 His strains that attempt to be frisky,
17But are grievously sad. A donkey, I add,
18 Is as musical, braying in his key.
19It's a puzzle to know what he's at.
20 I could pity him if it were madness.
21I never yet knew him to play a tune through;
22 And it gives me more anger than sadness
23To hear his horn stutter and stammer in utter
24 Confusion of musical badness.
25At his wide-open window he stands,
26 Overlooking his bit of a garden.
27One can see the great ass at one end of his brass
28 Blaring out, never asking your pardon.
29Our nerves though he shatter, to him it's no matter,
30 As long as his tympanums harden.
31He thinks, I've no doubt, it is sweet, --
32 While time, tune, and breath are all straying.
33The little house-sparrows feel all through their marrows
34 The jar and the fuss of his playing;
35The windows are shaking, the babies are waking,
36 The very dogs howling and baying.
37One note out of twenty he hits;
38 Blows all his pianos like fortes .
39His time is his own. He goes sounding alone,
40 A sort of Columbus or Cortes,
41On a perilous ocean, without any notion
42 Whereabouts in the dim deep his port is.
43If he gets to his haven at last,
44 He must needs be a desperate swimmer.
45He has plenty of wind, but no compass, I find;
46 And being a veteran trimmer,
47He veers and he tacks, and returns on his tracks;
48 And his prospects grow dimmer and dimmer.
49Like a man late from club, he has lost
50 His key, and around stumbles, moping,
51Touching this, trying that -- now a sharp, now a flat, --
52 Till he strikes on the note he is hoping;
53And a terrible blare at the end of his air
54 Shows he's got through at last with his groping.
55There, he's finished, -- at least for a while;
56 He is tired, or come to his senses;
57And out of his horn shakes the drops that were borne
58 By the winds of his musical frenzies.
59There's a rest, thank our stars! of ninety-nine bars,
60 Ere the tempest of sound recommences.
61When all the bad players are sent
62 Where all the false notes are protested,
63I'm sure that Old Nick will there play him a trick,
64 When his bad trump and he are arrested;
65And down in the regions of discord's mad legions
66 His head with two French horns be crested!
RPO poem Editors:
Ian Lancashire / Sharine Leung