Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Cynic of the Woods
 
Arthur Patchett Martin (b. 1851)
 
 
COME 1 from busy haunts of men,
  With nature to commune,
Which you, it seems, observe, and then
  Laugh out, like some buffoon.
 
You cease, and through the forest drear        5
  I pace, with sense of awe;
When once again upon my ear
  Breaks in your harsh guffaw.
 
I look aloft to yonder place,
  Where placidly you sit,        10
And tell you to your very face,
  I do not like your wit.
 
I ’m in no mood for blatant jest,
  I hate your mocking song,
My weary soul demands the rest        15
  Denied to it so long.
 
Besides, there passes through my brain
  The poet’s love of fame—
Why should not an Australian strain
  Immortalize my name?        20
 
And so I pace the forest drear,
  Filled with a sense of awe,
When louder still upon my ear
  Breaks in your harsh guffaw.
 
Yet truly, Jackass, it may be,        25
  My words are all unjust:
You laugh at what you hear and see,
  And laugh because you must.
 
You’ve seen Man civilized and rude,
  Of varying race and creed,        30
The black-skinned savage almost nude,
  The Englishman in tweed.
 
And here the lubra oft has strayed,
  To rest beneath the boughs,
Where now, perchance, some fair-haired maid        35
  May hear her lover’s vows;
 
While you from yonder lofty height
  Have studied human ways,
And, with a satirist’s delight,
  Dissected hidden traits.        40
 
Laugh on, laugh on! Your rapturous shout
  Again on me intrudes;
But I have found your secret out,
  O cynic of the woods!
 
Well! I confess, grim mocking elf,        45
  Howe’er I rhapsodize,
That I am more in love with self
  Than with the earth or skies.
 
So I will lay the epic by,
  That I had just begun:        50
Why should I scribble? Let me lie
  And bask here in the sun.
 
And let me own, were I endowed
  With your fine humorous sense,
I, too, should laugh—ay, quite as loud,        55
  At all Man’s vain pretence.
 
Note 1. After Callimachus

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