The Ballade of the Incompetent Ballade-Monger

Original Text: 
J. K. Stephen, Lapsus Calami, new edn. (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891), pp. 39-40. PR 5473 S4L3 1891 Robarts Library.
1I am not ambitious at all:
2  I am not a poet, I know
3(Though I do love to see a mere scrawl
4  To order and symmetry grow).
5  My muse is uncertain and slow,
6I am not expert with my tools,
8But I hope I have kept to the rules.
9When your brain is undoubtedly small,
10  'Tis hard, sir, to write in a row,
11Some five or six rhymes to Nepaul,
12  And more than a dozen to Joe:
13  The metre is easier though,
14Three rhymes are sufficient for 'ghouls,'
16But I hope I have kept to the rules.
17Unable to fly let me crawl,
18  Your patronage kindly bestow:
21  I am not desirous, oh no!
22To rise from the ranks of the fools,
24But I hope I have kept to the rules.
25Dear Sir, though my language is low,
27My verses are only so so,
28  But I hope I have kept to the rules.


7] argot: slang (French). Back to Line
15] go: energy, spirit. Back to Line
19] the author of Saul: probably Robert Browning (1802-1889). Back to Line
20] Voltaire: French satirical author (1694-1778), e.g., of Candide.
Rousseau: Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), French philosopher and writer. Back to Line
23] Gosse: Sir Edmund William Gosse (1849-1928), translator, poet, and man of letters, sometimes attacked for carelessness in his writing.
Henry Austin Dobson (1840-1921), a light-verse poet and a close friend of Gosse. Back to Line
26] Pierian pools: the nine Muses were worshipped at Pieria in Macedonia. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.