On the Beach.

Lines by a Private Tutor.

When the young Augustus Edward1
Has reluctantly gone bedward2
(He’s the urchin I am privileged to teach),3
From my left-hand waistcoat pocket4
I extract a battered locket5
And I commune with it, walking on the beach.6
I had often yearned for something7
That would love me, e’en a dumb thing ;8
But such happiness seemed always out of reach :9
Little boys are off like arrows10
With their little spades and barrows,11
When they see me bearing down upon the beach ;12
And although I’m rather handsome,13
Tiny babes, when I would dance ’e m14
On my arm, set up so horrible a screech15
That I pitch them to their nurses16
With (I fear me) muttered curses,17
And resume my lucubrations on the beach.18
And the rabbits won’t come nigh me,19
And the gulls observe and fly me,20
And I doubt, upon my honour, if a leech21
Would stick on me as on others,22
And I know if I had brothers23
They would cut me when we met upon the beach.24
So at last I bought this trinket.25
For (although I love to think it)26
’Twasn’t given me, with a pretty little speech :27
No ! I bought it of a pedlar,28
Brown and wizened as a medlar,29
Who was hawking odds and ends about the beach.30
But I’ve managed, very nearly,31
To believe that I was dearly32
Loved by Somebody, who (blushing like a peach)33
Flung it o’er me saying ‘ Wear it34
For my sake’—and, I declare, it35
Seldom strikes me that I bought it on the beach.36
I can see myself revealing37
Unsuspected depths of feeling,38
As in tones that half upbraid and half beseech39
I aver with what delight I40
Would give anything—my right eye41
For a souvenir of our stroll upon the beach.42
O that eye that never glistened43
And that voice to which I’ve listened44
But in fancy, how I dote upon them each !45
How, regardless what o’clock it46
Is, I pore upon that locket,47
Which does not contain her portrait, on the beach !48
As if something were inside it49
I laboriously hide it,50
And a rather pretty sermon you might preach51
Upon Fantasy, selecting52
For your ‘ instance ’ the affecting53
Tale of me and my proceedings on the beach.54
I depict her, ah, how charming !55
I portray myself alarming56
Her by swearing I would ‘ mount the deadly breach,’57
Or engage in any scrimmage58
For a glimpse of her sweet image,59
Or her shadow, or her footprint on the beach.60
And I’m ever ever seeing61
My imaginary Being,62
And I’d rather that my marrowbones should bleach63
In the winds, than that a cruel64
Fate should snatch from me the jewel65
Which I bought for one and sixpence on the beach.66