Robert Fuller Murray

Here you will find the Long Poem Adventure of a Poet of poet Robert Fuller Murray

Adventure of a Poet

As I was walking down the street 
A week ago, 
Near Henderson's I chanced to meet 
A man I know. 

His name is Alexander Bell, 
His home, Dundee; 
I do not know him quite so well 
As he knows me. 

He gave my hand a hearty shake, 
Discussed the weather, 
And then proposed that we should take 
A stroll together. 

Down College Street we took our way, 
And there we met 
The beautiful Miss Mary Gray, 
That arch coquette, 
Who stole last spring my heart away 
And has it yet. 

That smile with which my bow she greets, 
Would it were fonder! 
Or else less fond-since she its sweets 
On all must squander. 

Thus, when I meet her in the streets, 
I sadly ponder, 
And after her, as she retreats, 
My thoughts will wander. 

And so I listened with an air 
Of inattention, 
While Bell described a folding-chair 
Of his invention. 

And when we reached the Swilcan Burn, 
'It looks like rain,' 
Said I, 'and we had better turn.' 
'Twas all in vain, 

For Bell was weather-wise, and knew 
The signs aerial; 
He bade me note the strip of blue 
Above the Imperial, 

Also another patch of sky, 
South-west by south, 
Which meant that we might journey dry 
To Eden's mouth. 

He was a man with information 
On many topics: 
He talked about the exploration 
Of Poles and Tropics, 

The scene in Parliament last night, 
Sir William's letter; 
'And do you like the electric light, 
Or gas-lamps better?' 

The strike among the dust-heap pickers 
He said was over; 
And had I read about the liquors 
Just seized at Dover? 

Or the unhappy printer lad 
At Rothesay drowned? 
Or the Italian ironclad 
That ran aground ? 

He told me stories (lately come) 
Of town society, 
Some slightly tinged with truth, and some 
With impropriety. 

He spoke of duelling in France, 
Then lightly glanced at 
Mrs. Mackenzie's monster dance, 
Which he had danced at. 

So he ran on, till by-and-by 
A silence came, 
For which I greatly fear that I 
Was most to blame. 

Then neither of us spoke a word 
For quite a minute 
When presently a thought occurred 
With promise in it. 

'How did you like the Shakespeare play 
The students read 
By this, the Eden like a bay 
Before us spread. 

Near Eden many softer plots 
Of sand there be; 
Our feet, like Pharaoh's chariots, 
Drave heavily. 

And ere an answer I could frame, 
He said that Irving 
Of his extraordinary fame 
Was undeserving, 

And for his part he thought more highly 
Of Ellen Terry; 
Although he knew a girl named Riley 
At Broughty Ferry, 
Who might be, if she only chose, 
As great a star, 
She had a part in the tableaux 
At the bazaar. 

If I had said but little yet, 
I now said less, 
And smoked a home-made cigarette 
In mute distress. 

The smoke into his face was blown 
By the wind's action, 
And this afforded me, I own, 
Some satisfaction; 

But still his tongue received no check 
Till, coming home, 
We stood beside the ancient wreck 
And watched the foam 

Wash in among the timbers, now 
Sunk deep in sand, 
Though I can well remember how 
I used to stand 

On windy days and hold my hat, 
And idly turn 
To read 'Lovise, Frederikstad' 
Upon her stern.

Her stern long since was buried quite, 
And soon no trace 
The absorbing sand will leave in sight 
To mark her place. 

This reverie was not permitted 
To last too long. 
Bell's mind had left the stage, and flitted 
To fields of song. 

And now he spoke of Marmion 
And Lewis Morris; 
The former he at school had done, 
Along with Horace. 

His maiden aunts, no longer young, 
But learned ladies, 
Had lately sent him Songs Unsung, 
Epic of Hades, 

Gycia, and Gwen. He thought them fine; 
Not like that Browning, 
Of whom he would not read a line, 
He told me, frowning. 

Talking of Horace -- very clever 
Beyond a doubt, 
But what the Satires meant, he never 
Yet could make out. 

I said I relished Satire Nine 
Of the First Book; 
But he had skipped to the divine 
Eliza Cook. 

He took occasion to declare, 
In tones devoted, 
How much he loved her old Arm-chair, 
Which now he quoted. 

And other poets he reviewed, 
Some two or three, 
Till, having touched on Thomas Hood, 
He turned to me. 

'Have you been stringing any rhymes 
Of late?' he said. 
I could not lie, but several times 
I shook my head. 

The last straw to the earth will bow 
The overloaded camel, 
And surely I resembled now 
That ill-used mammal. 

See how a thankless world regards 
The gifted choir 
Of minstrels, singer