I'm the king of the Cadaverals, I'm spectral President; And, all from east to occident, There's not a man whose dermal walls Contain so narrow intervals, So lank a resident.
Look at me and you shall see The ghastliest of the ghastly; The eyes that have watched a thousand years, The forehead lined with a thousand cares, The seaweed-character of hairs!-- You shall see and you shall see, Or you may hear, as I can feel, When the winds batter, how these parchments clatter, And the beautiful tenor that's ever ringing When thro' the Seaweed the breeze is singing: And you should know, I know a great deal, When the bacchi arcanum I clutch and gripe, I know a great deal of wind and weather By hearing my own cheeks slap together A-pulling up a pipe.
I believe--and I conceive I'm an authority In all things ghastly, First for tenuity For stringiness secondly, And sallowness lastly I say I believe a cadaverous man Who would live as long and as lean as he can Should live entirely on bacchi On the bacchic ambrosia entirely feed him; When living thus, so little lack I, So easy am I, I'll never heed him Who anything seeketh beyond the Leaf: For, what with mumbling pipe-ends freely, And snuffing the ashes now and then, I give it as my firm belief One might go living on genteelly To the age of an antediluvian. This from the king to each spectral Grim-- Mind, we address no bibbing smoker! Tell not us 'tis as broad as it's long, We've no breadth more than a leathern thong Tanned--or a tarnished poker: Ye are also lank and slim?-- Your king he comes of an ancient line Which "length without breadth" the Gods define, And look ye follow him! Lanky lieges! the Gods one day Will cut off this line, as geometers say, Equal to any given line:-- PI,--PE--their hands divine Do more than we can see: They cut off every length of clay Really in a most extraordinary way-- They fill your bowls up--Dutch C'naster, Shag, York River--fill 'em faster, Fill 'em faster up, I say. What Turkey, Oronoko, Cavendish! There's the fuel to make a chafing dish, A chafing dish to peel the petty Paint that girls and boys call pretty Peel it off from lip and cheek: We've none such here; yet if ye seek An infallible test for a raw beginner, Mundungus will always discover a sinner.
Now ye are charged, we give the word Light! and pour it thro' your noses, And let it hover and lodge in your hair Bird-like, bird-like--You're aware Anacreon had a bird-- A bird! and filled his bowl with roses. Ha ha! ye laugh in ghastlywise, And the smoke comes through your eyes, And you're looking very grim, And the air is very dim, And the casual paper flare Taketh still a redder glare.
Now thou pretty little fellow, Now thine eyes are turning yellow, Thou shalt be our page to-night! Come and sit thee next to us, And as we may want a light See that you be dexterous.
Now bring forth your tractates musty, Dry, cadaverous, and dusty, One, on the sound of mammoths' bones In motion; one, on Druid-stones: Show designs for pipes most ghastly, And devils and ogres grinning nastily! Show, show the limnings ye brought back, Since round and round the zodiac Ye galloped goblin horses which Were light as smoke and plack as pitch; And those ye made in the mouldy moon, And Uranus, Saturn, Neptune, And in the planet Mercury, Where all things living and dead have an eye Which sometimes opening suddenly Stareth strangely
But now the night is growing better, And every jet of smoke grows jetter, While yet there blinks sufficient light, Bring in those skeletons that fright Most men into fits, but that We relish for their want of fat. Bring them in, the Cimabues With all or each that horribly true is, Francias, Giottos, Masaccios, That tread on the tops of their bony toes, And every one with a long sharp arrow Cleverly shot through this spinal marrow, With plenty of gridirons, spikes, and fires And fiddling angels in sheets and quires.
Hold! 'tis dark! 'tis lack of light, Or something wrong in this royal sight, Or else our musty, dusty, and right Well-beloved lieges all Are standing in rank against the wall, And ever thin and thinner, and tall And taller grow and cadaveral! Subjects, ye are sharp and spare, Every nose is blue and frosty, And your back-bone's growing bare, And your king can count your costae, And your bones are clattering, And your teeth are chattering, And ye spit out bits of pipe, Which, shorter grown, ye faster gripe In jaws; and weave a cloudy cloak That wraps up all except your bones Whose every joint is oozing smoke: And there's a creaky music drones Whenas your lungs distend your ribs, A sound, that's like the grating nibs Of pens on paper late at night; Your shanks are yellow more than white And very like what Holbein drew! Avaunt! ye are a ghastly crew Too like the Campo Santo--down! We are your monarch, but we own That were we not, we very well Might take ye to be imps of hell: But ye are glorious ghastly sprites, What ho! our page! Sir knave--lights, lights, The final pipes are to be lit: Sit, gentlemen, we charge ye sit Until the cock affrays the night And heralds in the limping morn, And makes the owl and raven flit; Until the jolly moon is white, And till the stars and moon are gone.
The chamber is lonely and light; Outside there is nothing but night-- And wind and a creeping rain. And the rain clings to the pane: And heavy and drear's The night; and the tears Of heaven are dropt in pain.
And the tear's of heaven are dropt in pain; And man pains heaven and shuts the rain Outside, and sleeps: and winds are sighing; And turning worlds sing mass for the dying.
Last modified 5/15/95