Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Old Sedan-Chair
By Henry Austin Dobson (1840–1921)
  “What’s not destroyed by Time’s devouring Hand?
Where’s Troy,—and where’s the May-Pole in the Strand?”

IT stands in the stable-yard, under the eaves,
Propped up by a broomstick and covered with leaves;
It once was the pride of the gay and the fair,
But now ’tis a ruin,—that old Sedan-chair!
It is battered and tattered,—it little avails        5
That once it was lacquered, and glistened with nails;
For its leather is cracked into lozenge and square
Like a canvas by Wilkie,—that old Sedan-chair.
See, here come the bearing-straps; here were the holes
For the poles of the bearers—when once there were poles;        10
It was cushioned with silk, it was wadded with hair,
As the birds have discovered,—that old Sedan-chair.
“Where’s Troy?” says the poet! Look; under the seat
Is a nest with four eggs; ’tis a favored retreat
Of the Muscovy hen, who has hatched, I dare swear,        15
Quite an army of chicks in that old Sedan-chair.
And yet—Can’t you fancy a face in the frame
Of the window,—some high-headed damsel or dame,
Be-patched and be-powdered, just set by the stair,
While they raise up the lid of that old Sedan-chair?        20
Can’t you fancy Sir Plume, as beside her he stands,
With his ruffles a-droop on his delicate hands,
With his cinnamon coat, with his laced solitaire,
As he lifts her out light from that old Sedan-chair?
Then it swings away slowly. Ah, many a league        25
It has trotted ’twixt sturdy-legged Terence and Teague;
Stout fellows!—but prone, on a question of fare,
To brandish the poles of that old Sedan-chair!
It has waited by portals where Garrick has played;
It has waited by Heidegger’s “Grand Masquerade”;        30
For my Lady Codille, for my Lady Bellair,
It has waited—and waited, that old Sedan-chair!
Oh, the scandals it knows! Oh, the tales it could tell
Of Drum and Ridotto, of Rake and of Belle,—
Of Cock-fight and Levee, and (scarcely more rare!)        35
Of Fête-days at Tyburn, that old Sedan-chair!
“Heu! quantum mutata,” I say as I go.
It deserves better fate than a stable-yard, though!
We must furbish it up, and dispatch it,—“With Care,”—
To a Fine-Art Museum—that old Sedan-chair.        40

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