I've a Friend, over the sea; I like him, but he loves me. It all grew out of the books I write; They find such favour in his sight That he slaughters you with savage looks Because you don't admire my books. He does himself though,---and if some vein Were to snap to-night in this heavy brain, To-morrow month, if I lived to try, Round should I just turn quietly, Or out of the bedclothes stretch my hand Till I found him, come from his foreign land To be my nurse in this poor place, And make my broth and wash my face And light my fire and, all the while, Bear with his old good-humoured smile That I told him ``Better have kept away ``Than come and kill me, night and day, ``With, worse than fever throbs and shoots, ``The creaking of his clumsy boots.'' I am as sure that this he would do As that Saint Paul's is striking two. And I think I rather ... woe is me! ---Yes, rather would see him than not see, If lifting a hand could seat him there Before me in the empty chair To-night, when my head aches indeed, And I can neither think nor read Nor make these purple fingers hold The pen; this garret's freezing cold!
And I've a Lady---there he wakes, The laughing fiend and prince of snakes Within me, at her name, to pray Fate send some creature in the way Of my love for her, to be down-torn, Upthrust and outward-borne, So I might prove myself that sea Of passion which I needs must be! Call my thoughts false and my fancies quaint And my style infirm and its figures faint, All the critics say, and more blame yet, And not one angry word you get. But, please you, wonder I would put My cheek beneath that lady's foot Rather than trample under mine The laurels of the Florentine, And you shall see how the devil spends A fire God gave for other ends! I tell you, I stride up and down This garret, crowned with love's best crown, And feasted with love's perfect feast, To think I kill for her, at least, Body and soul and peace and fame, Alike youth's end and manhood's aim, ---So is my spirit, as flesh with sin, Filled full, eaten out and in With the face of her, the eyes of her, The lips, the little chin, the stir Of shadow round her month; and she ---I'll tell you,---calmly would decree That I should roast at a slow fire, If that would compass her desire And make her one whom they invite To the famous ball to-morrow night.
There may be heaven; there must be hell; Meantime, there is our earth here---well!