Part V: Ex Fumo Dare Lucem Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


'Twixt the Cup and the LipA
Calm and clear the bright day is decliningC
The crystal expanse of the bayD
Like a shield of pure metal lies shiningC
'Twixt headlands of purple and greyD
While the little waves leap in the sunsetE
And strike with a miniature shockF
In sportive and infantine onsetE
The base of the iron stone rockF
Calm and clear the sea breezes are ladenG
With a fragrance a freshness a powerH
With a song like the song of a maidenG
With a scent like the scent of a flowerH
And a whisper half weird half propheticI
Comes home with the sigh of the surfJ
But I pause for your fancies poeticI
Never rise from the level of 'Turf '-
Fellow bungler of mine fellow sinnerH
In public performances pastK
In trials whence touts take their winnerH
In rumours that circulate fastK
In strains from Prunella or PriamL
Staying stayers or goers that goM
You're much better posted than I amL
'Tis little I care less I knowM
Alas neither poet nor prophetN
Am I though a jingler of rhymesO
'Tis a hobby of mine and I'm off itP
At times and I'm on it at timesO
And whether I'm off it or on itP
Your readers my counsels will shunG
Since I scarce know Van Tromp from Blue BonnetN
Though I might know Cigar from The NunG
With 'visions' you ought to be satedQ
And sicken'd by this time I swearR
That mine are all myths self createdS
Air visions that vanish in airR
If I had some loose coins I might chuck oneG
To settle this question and sayD
Here goes 'this is tails for the black oneG
And heads for my fav'rite the bay '-
And must I rob Paul to pay PeterH
Or Peter defraud to pay PaulT
My rhymes are they stale if my metreH
Is varied one chime rings through allT
One chime though I sing more or sing lessU
I have but one string to my luteV
And it might have been better if stringlessU
And songless the same had been muteV
Yet not as a seer of visionsU
Nor yet as a dreamer of dreamsU
I send you these partial decisionsU
On hackney'd impoverish'd themesU
But with song out of tune sung to pass timeW
Flung heedless to friends or to foesU
Where the false notes that ring for the last timeW
May blend with some real ones who knowsU
On the hill they are crowding togetherH
In the stand they are crushing for roomX
Like midge flies they swarm on the heatherH
They gather like bees on the broomX
They flutter like moths round a candleY
Stale similes granted what thenZ
I've got a stale subject to handleY
A very stale stump of a penZ
Hark the shuffle of feet that are manyA2
Of voices the many tongued clangB2
'Has he had a bad night ' 'Has he anyA2
Friends left ' How I hate your turf slangB2
'Tis stale to begin with not wittyA2
But dull and inclined to be coarseU
But bad men can't use more's the pityA2
Good words when they slate a good horseU
Heu heu quantus equis that's LatinG
For 'bellows to mend' with the weedsU
They're off lights and shades silk and satinG
A rainbow of riders and steedsU
And one shows in front and anotherH
Goes up and is seen in his placeU
Sic transit more Latin Oh botherH
Let's get to the end of the raceU
See they come round the last turn careeringC
Already Tait's colours are struckC2
And the green in the vanguard is steeringC
And the red's in the rear of the ruckC2
Are the stripes in the shade doom'd to lie longD2
Do the blue stars on white skies wax dimE2
Is it Tamworth or Smuggler 'Tis BylongD2
That wins either Bylong or TimE2
As the shell through the breach that is rivenG
And sapp'd by the springing of minesU
As the bolt from the thunder cloud drivenG
That levels the larches and pinesU
Through yon mass parti colour'd that dashesU
Goal turn'd clad in many hued garbF2
From rear to van surges and flashesU
The yellow and black of The BarbF2
Past The Fly falling back on the right andG2
The Gull giving way on the leftH2
Past Tamworth who feels the whip smite andG2
Whose sides by the rowels are cleftH2
Where Tim and the chestnut togetherH
Still bear of the battle the bruntI2
As if eight stone twelve were a featherH
He comes with a rush to the frontI2
Tim Whiffler may yet prove a TartarH
And Bylong's the horse that can stayD
But Kean is in trouble and CarterH
Is hard on the satin skinn'd bayD
And The Barb comes away unextendedD
Hard held like a second EclipseU
While behind the hoof thunder is blendedD
With the whistling and crackling of whipsU
He wins yes he wins upon paperH
He hasn't yet won upon turfJ
And these rhymes are but moonshine and vapourH
Air bubbles and spume from the surfJ
So be it at least they are givenG
Free gratis for just what they're worthJ2
And whatever there may be in heavenG
There's little worth much upon earthJ2
When with satellites round them the centreH
Of all eyes hard press'd by the crowdD
The pair horse and rider re enterH
The gate 'mid a shout long and loudD
You may feel as you might feel just landedD
Full length on the grass from the clipA
Of a vicious cross counter right handedD
Or upper cut whizzing from hipA
And that's not so bad if you're pick'd upK2
Discreetly and carefully nursedD
Loose teeth by the sponge are soon lick'd upK2
And next time you may get home firstD
Still I'm not sure you'd like it exactlyA2
Such tastes as a rule are acquiredD
And you'll find in a nutshell this fact lieL2
Bruised optics are not much admiredD
Do I bore you with vulgar allusionsU
Forgive me I speak as I feelM2
I've ponder'd and made my conclusionsU
As the mill grinds the corn to the mealM2
So man striving boldly but blindlyA2
Ground piecemeal in Destiny's millN2
At his best taking punishment kindlyA2
Is only a chopping block stillN2
Are we wise Our abstruse calculationsU
Are based on experience longD2
Are we sanguine Our high expectationsU
Are founded on hope that is strongD2
Thus we build an air castle that crumblesU
And drifts till no traces remainO2
And the fool builds again while he grumblesU
And the wise one laughs building againZ
'How came they to pass these rash blundersU
These false steps so hard to defend '-
Our friend puts the question and wondersU
We laugh and reply 'Ah my friendD
Could you trace the first stride falsely takenG
The distance misjudged where or howP2
When you pick'd yourself up stunn'd and shakenG
At the fence 'twixt the turf and the plough '-
In the jar of the panel reboundingD2
In the crash of the splintering woodD
In the ears to the earth shock resoundingD2
In the eyes flashing fire and bloodD
In the quarters above you revolvingD2
In the sods underneath heaving highL2
There was little to aid you in solvingD2
Such questions the how or the whyL2
And destiny steadfast in triflesU
Is steadfast for better or worseU
In great things it crushes and stiflesU
And swallows the hopes that we nurseU
Men wiser than we are may wonderH
When the future they cling to so fastD
To the roll of that destiny's thunderH
Goes down with the wrecks of the pastD
The past the dead past that has swallow'dD
All the honey of life and the milkD2
Brighter dreams than mere pastimes we've follow'dD
Better things than our scarlet or silkD2
Aye and worse things that past is it reallyA2
Dead to us who again and againZ
Feel sharply hear plainly see clearlyA2
Past days with their joy and their painO2
Like corpses embalm'd and unburiedD
They lie and in spite of our willN2
Our souls on the wings of thought carriedD
Revisit their sepulchres stillN2
Down the channels of mystery glidingD2
They conjure strange tales rarely readD
Of the priests of dead Pharaohs presidingD2
At mystical feasts of the deadD
Weird pictures arise quaint devicesU
Rude emblems baked funeral meatsU
Strong incense rare wines and rich spicesU
The ashes the shrouds and the sheetsU
Does our thraldom fall short of completenessU
For the magic of a charnel house charmQ2
And the flavour of a poisonous sweetnessU
And the odour of a poisonous balmR2
And the links of the past but no matterH
For I'm getting beyondD

Adam Lindsay Gordon


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