Richard Crawley

1840 - 1893 / Bryngwyn

To A Schoolfellow, On The Author Going To London To Study Law

November 1866.
Dear F , my fancy in the cage of law,
Set with a tribe of rooks to learn to caw,
Flies off at eve, and in its circles true,
Seems but to wander to return to you.
Oh had I wings like that too happy dove,
And could I fly away to him I love,
Soon would I quit the labours of the nest,
And plume my pinions at his side at rest.
But I must keep the prison that I hate,
Beat as I may my feathers at the grate ;
Forget the notes so native and so dear,
And to a foreign music tune my ear ;
Or mourn too late my liberty of wing,
And starve in winter where I sang in spring.

To you kind Fate a season still has given
To try your wings and visit all the heaven.
Still may you sip from Plato's honeyed page,
Or crack the kernels of the later sage ;
Still may you haunt the classic wells of song,
And learn with Juvenal to wither wrong,
From Horace prudence, and in Homer see
The sacred beauties of simplicity.
Mark how the sun of Athens swiftly rose,
And left the horizon rosy at its close :
Then mourn a little interval of night,
Till Roman moons repair the vanished light;
There Scipio great and greater Caesar see,
And learn 'mid slaves with Cato to be free ;
O'er Nero's guilt and Caracalla's sigh,
Then proudly turn and watch Papinian die :
Who in a clime which Freedom long had fled,
Where Valour scarce survived his comrade dead,
Where even virtue by compliance stood,
And at the shrine of Rimmon bowed the good,
Thus answered stern the parricide and king,
'Twas easier to do than praise the thing.
And when you've traversed all the realms of art,
Still thank your country for an English heart.

Yet let your thought, exulting to be free,
Tired in its wanderings sometimes rest on me.
For as the twins, the sons of mighty Jove,
The emblems fair of constancy and love,
When one was doomed to leave the upper air,
The other felt a half intruder there,
Till of his right he forfeited a part,
And gave it to the brother of his heart.
So were we surely destined to be one,
Sworn comrades ere our life had scarce begun ;
At school and truants on the land and tide
In many a pleasure and adventure tried :
When on the Breton coast uprose the main,
And our frail shallop filled and filled again,
Till in our souls we felt the billow's breath,
And partly knew the bitterness of death.
Or when the candles burned with waning light,
And older and unluckier grew the night,
Till of our wealth was only left the shards,
For envious Fate and B____ held the cards.
And then remember but two years ago,
How near we perished in the Wiltshire snow !
When fainter still and fainter grew your powers,
And almost numbered seemed our mortal hours,
Till your fast-failing strength I propped alone,
And in my friend's fatigues forgot my own.

Nor yet, believe me, are our wanderings o'er,
Still will we tempt their accidents once more ;
In rapid Elez wet a roving line,
And on the rosy trout of Aven dine :
See if St Herbert's tower retains my name,
Or if the miracles have lost their fame :
Then rest, the labours of the day forgot,
In the calm slumbers of a peasant's cot.
Till then—but how it comes let grammar tell,
I still must stammer o'er the word Farewell.
So I retire till spring our fortune joins
To tail and fee, recoveries and essoigns.
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