Cornucopia

Original Text: 
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
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
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