an ebook published by Project Gutenberg Australia

Title: The Bronze Trumpet
Author: Henry Kendall
eBook No.: 2300581h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: 2023
Most recent update: 2023

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

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The Bronze Trumpet:
A Satirical Poem

Henry Kendall


Note: The National Library of Australia’s catalogue entry for this publication includes the following notation: “Authorship attributed to Henry Kendall by D. S. Mitchell, on the basis of a letter from Kendall to Charles Harpur.”


The Bronze Trumpet

While yet November filled the woods with flame,
To Southern shores the Muse of Albion came!
She, like an Echo in the footless caves,
Strayed, singing, by the madly-meeting waves;
And sleepless hills, and streams without a home,
And torrents driving down in stormy foam,
Forgot their sorrow, hearing then the beat —
The silky fall of sunshine-sandalled feet!
Forgot their terror, listening to a swell
Of music working like a wondrous spell.

“In mighty days, and while the breath of Fame
“Is loud for many a noble English name —
“While they are left who wear the fair renown
“From men like Pitt and Melbourne handed down;
“While Browning holds us with his kingly songs,
“And Enid’s poet, like a lover, longs
“For deathless Beauty by unshaken seas,
“I seek,” she said, “the bright Antipodes!

“I seek,” she said,“the land of gold and glare,
“Enamoured of the goodly ‘Giants’ there.
“Long time I’ve loved them, silver Sister, long,
“And Love unsated shapes the Sapphic song:
“Long time I’ve loved them, and delayed desire,
“Consumes me like a fierce and frequent fire!”

Behind the Muse, in deep dejected mood,
The silent Sister of the Nations stood:
She too had loved the “Giants:” self-withdrawn
Her life had been, yet in the woods forlorn,
And by the sweep and stress of seas intense,
And in the mountain’s wild magnificence,
She too had loitered, conning many a lay
For names not destined soon to pass away;
But lo, her harp was stringless, and her mouth
Was dumb — this sweet Urania of the South!

“I’ll strike no harp,” the Muse of Albion cried,
“Be mine a twisted trumpet, long and wide —
“Be mine a broad-mouthed trumpet made to fit
“The ample utterance that shall pass through it!
“No feeble theme is mine! to ‘human desks’
“I leave your pointless puns and bleak burlesques!
“Let hirelings flourish — let the treacherous blow
“Be dealt at trusting friend and noble foe:
“Let those who see the snake’s ungrateful mood,
“Not wonder, though they gave him warmth and food!

I know the serpent; and I know the horde
“That strike and sting the while they lick and laud!
“But not for these, and ‘toadies’ of their kind,
“I left the dear old English cliffs behind:
“My song is praise! for me shall Cowper smile,
“And pause a moment in his mighty toil;
“For me shall Arnold in his chair serene
“Unbend his forehead and majestic mien;
“While all our Solons, in their thanks profuse
“Shall shout — ‘A billet for the British Muse!’”

She ceased; and straightway, with her wondrous skill,
She shaped a trumpet fashioned to her will:
’Twas made of doubtful bronze — the Herald’s lead
With Punch’s pewter mingled in the head;
About the tube the Empire’s brass did glare,
And fused old candlesticks from Bell were there;
And last — not least — the Freeman helped the mould
Where mica glittered in the place of gold.
Now when she found her faultless work complete,
The Maiden blew a blast: the sound was sweet;
More sweet than singing winds in hidden hills,
Or waters playing past the daffodils;
Though there be envious ones, indeed, who say
The blast was rather like a donkey’s bray.

Then said the Muse:— “Who’ll take this thing of mine
“And shape for other days a Song divine?
“Who’ll blow this tube for me? Ah, sister fair,
“With silver feet and wildly-glittering hair,
“Who is the favoured one whose steps of fire
“Can scale the summits of my high desire?
“Who’ll take the task?” Her Austral sister turned
With lips that faltered, but with heart that burned,
And answered humbly: “May my Harpur try —
My first-born, wedded to weird Ecstacy?”
“No — no!” she cried, “let Harpur keep his ease
“Amongst his native streams and rocks and trees;
“He’d dabble in aesthetics, and I know
“My work is not for Harpur — let him go!”
Then asked the other: “Shall young Kendall rise?
“His wings are used to travelling through the skies?
“Behold of late he took a flight afar
“And sped like comet, out from star to star,
“With furious tumult! Radiant Queen of mine,
“Shall Kendall rise and take the flight divine?”
To whom the Maiden, in a lower tone:
“My task is not for pinions barely grown:
“I’ve thought of him; and then of one who weeps,
“A tuneful Poet, where Ione sleeps,
He hath the strength; but we must even leave
“The spot where Love and pallid Memory grieve.”
Then cried at once the sister hopefully —
“I’ve hit the chosen — shall brisk Barton try?
“That bearded bard — the prince of scented swells?”
He, sister! why he wears a jester’s bells!”
“Shall brilliant Dalley to the honour pass?
“He rides a Pegasus!” — “He rides an ass!

“Ah, timid trembler beaming at my side,
“For once be bolder,” she of Albion cried,
“Take up the tube, and, poised in steady flight,
“Sweep on, and fill with swift and strong delight
“The goodly ‘Giants’ that we love so well;
“While I, fast-harboured in some neighbouring dell,
“Insphere thy wingëd words with ardent fire,
“And help thee to the summits of Desire!
“Be thine the task to follow up my theme
“In echoing by-ways of the mountain stream;
“Yea, from the hill and holt, and glade and glen,
“Blow blasts of praise to tickle famous men!”

Then she whose heart had been so very low,
Felt sudden strength and a diviner glow;
Swift from her eyes the silver lightnings flew
And round her feet the speedy flowers grew;
From every side the hues of sunset came
And ringed her with a sweet ambrosial flame;
The while, with twisted trumpet wide and long,
She startled Sydney and commenced her Song.

A Song of rapture, like a splendid light
Thrown out, you know, across a murky night!
Steeped well in Love, each radiant passage shone
Like daybeams too intense to look upon!
Though envious Dibbler hath the heart to call
This glorious Thing, a Song of sneers and gall!

The Song

“‘Had Zimri peace who slew his master?’ Nay,
My ‘gentle’ hearers, I but slash, not slay —
You slip behind, nor deem my mild attacks
For mighty buttocks and majestic backs!
You’ll find no blood about — no ‘bigwigs’ slain —
For them I sheathe the sword nor wield the cane;
Yet if I thrash them till their hearts be sore,
What then? they’ve had their turn to thrash before!
And since my children,” sang the fluent Muse,
“Are well-belaboured, let the blows be dues —
Right dues and lasting, lest the gossips say
That certain churls have thrown their strength away.

“Then sound the trumpet! Let our Francis grace
His petty audience with his nightly face;
Yea, let him twist his mouth, and snarl and sneer,
On bench and platform, yelping year by year!
What though the Herald dubs his lectures ‘treats,’
Those changeless dishes of familiar meats.
Are they the newer? Will they tickle more
Because we’ve had them fifty times before?

Ay, sound the trumpet! if the dwindled crowd
Have dolts to listen, let him ‘read’ aloud
Who reads so glibly, let him stand and stammer,
And ‘lispth’ and loiter over English ‘gwammar,”
And nice inflections, till his foolish tongue
Cleave to his mouth where better things have clung!
But sing, my Poets! While brisk Barton bites
His wretched pen and writes, as now he writes
For very malice, wherefore curb your verse?
Than his, remember, it can be no worse!
Yea, sing away, although the criticlings,
Like full-grown critics, are for clipping wings;
And though young Pegasus doth feel the flies
That round his haunches rise and fall and rise,
And cannot whisk aside the tedious bunch
From surly S—dd—n down to snivelling Punch.

“Who pules for peace? Doth mealy Mawworm cry,
Who damns the pulpit with his weekly lie?
That ‘h’-less darling loved of dainty belles —
That holy butt for boys and beery ‘swells?’
Doth Mawworm cry? the mild epitome
Of all a well-bred flunkey ought to be?
A sleek-cut rascal of the ranting race
Who cannot look his Bishop in the face?
No peace for him! he hath a turn for rhyme, —
And ‘lectured’ thereon once upon a time!
’Twas then, great Shakespeare, turning in his grave,
Did moan for hours to hear the twaddler rave;
While Satan’s imps prepared, [sad truth to tell,]
For Mawworm’s sprite, the hottest hole in hell!
Ah, Mawworm, Mawworm! hard it is I know,
Thou should’st have lived three hundred years ago!
Then saints were scarce, and then the ready stake
Was blazing ever for the saintly sake
Of would-be martyrs — godly men like thee, —
And meek descendants of the Pharisee!
But now the days are cold: the ‘sweet Elect’
Get all the scoffs — not all the old respect.”

“Shall gushing G—h—m fail to reap his dues —
That dull abortion of the Ethic Muse?
The bard of leaky ships, whose leaky rhymes
And doubtful tenses ‘grace’ our local ‘Times,’
Or in the shops, like baby-lyrics shine
In print, on strips of satin superfine?
Whose themes of ‘blood’ and ‘death’ and Morgan’s bones
Turn up as pleasant as the ‘grewsome’ groans
From pigs, in sorrow, marking out of reach
The mellow melon or the pulpy peach?

“What though thy stale ‘orations’ pass and pay —
And none hath dubbed thee ‘twaddler,’ by the way —
What though the Herald claims thy minstrelsy,
And peerless West doth paw and fondle thee,
Is Midas less the Midas? shall the ears
Be winked at where a godly hat appears?
Say — shall thy brothers of the braying kind,
To cabbage-carts and market-boys assigned,
Fail, as some fail — poor devils — to descry
Their kith and kin beneath thy spotless tie?

“Come, gentle Dibbler! candid critic dear,
With sidelong eye and thin perpetual sneer!
Thou hast thy fond disciples; they remain
Bound like to faithful watchdogs on thy chain;
They’ll bark at those who threat! With thee to lead,
They’ll follow, and be like to dogs indeed!
For hast thou not on them a mighty claim,
For mending stanzas and insuring fame?
Yea, though in ‘scrap-books’ only dost thou shine,
And maids — [not critics] — call thy verse ‘divine,’
And though thy neighbours have no eyes to see
The full-blown Hazlitt — aged — twenty-three!”

“Cry out ‘no mercy!’ slip you line and leash,
Buchanan, Lucas, Cummings, Rodd, Dalgleish!
Et ceteri, if you like, come great — come small —
I have no terror — here is ‘at you all!
I shall not step aside, or sag with fear
For you, ye foxes, whining in my rear! —
Ah, Queen of mine! say is there end to pain
For adverbs strangled, and for ‘h’s’ slain?
Are these, our Cobdens — these, our Peels and Brights,
Who chase the sleep from out the long long nights!
With windy nothings? and who slip away
Betimes, like shadows, into place and pay?”

“All hail, my Cowper! not for thee the pen
Is dipped in wormwood, man of many men!
For, while I do not love thee and thy rule,
I know the thorough statesman from the fool.
To hearty Jack let every praise accrue
For ‘free selection:’ give old Nick his due!
At least the man is honest, and, I know,
A wee bit holier than the Nick below.
Let ardent Tommy and his motley throng,
With Rae and W—tt—n, have their meed in song:
Let Poet Johnny never hide his head
For limping verses and for lectures dead —
That bloody man who murdered, in their turns,
The son of Amoz and the hapless Burns!
And let our brilliant Boffins never pass
A day without his three-and-twentieth glass.”

“Farewell, my Samuel! Here my breath declines
To tax thee, Taxer, with tartaric lines.
On other game behold I turn mine eye —
Fly, Billy Dailey! blustering Isaacs fly!
Hide, windy Windeyer! — cut and clear the way,
Ye budding Talfourds, for the coming fray!
Who is the champion? Native Dullness, who
Will take the field and wage the fight for you?
I know you, dunces! Scores and scores of times
You’ve hissed my children and reviled their rhymes:
These are no better: take the tardy quill
And damn these ‘viler’ verses as you will!
I fain would know how much the mongrels dare,
Who bark in kennels, in the open air.

“One ‘cannot strike at kernes’ — on W—t call,
Come forth thou noblest Roman of them all!
Thou chief apostle of accomplished slang —
Bear witness, roaring Jack, and Dunmore Lang —
Thou Prince of Polishers! have I no claim
Upon thy leaders graced with Wiley’s name?
Still must I wait — shall Phil M’Carroll’s lays,
And F——s’ penny whistles wear thy praise,
And I not get thy cudgel? Ah! behold
Thy servant at thy feet in sackcloth rolled:
Strike — strike, my master! They are sure of Fame
Who feel thy ‘waddy’ and enjoy thy blame.

“Some churls have whispered, [let me say it low]
That thou art, after all, a sorry foe —
That ‘heavy vanity and heavy lead
Fill up the crannies’ of thy ‘ponderous head!’
But I — I don’t believe it! I have tried
And found — nor lead nor anything beside!

“My fluent Bell! and is it left to you
To stalk on stilts and ape the high review?
On one bright page of yours behold we see
Æsthetics, Veno, Cricket, Poetry!
The next we turn to hath a ‘Champion Race!’
The next records the latest ‘mill’ by Mace!
Howbeit in Bell one finds at club or lunch,
A vast improvement on the local Punch!
The former hath some genial wit — some fun
He substitutes for Punch’s pointless pun
And slanderous joke; and here and there you mark
Of hearty humour an undoubted spark.

“At all events, I’d sooner sing the praise
Of semi-sinners, than attune my lays
For those who flaunt their godliness, and drag
The holy banner with them, like a rag
Of party-warfare — I would rather be
Old Nick himself and flout all fealty,
Than hang to ‘Pleaders,’ and that precious set
With ‘pious Pidgeon’ in their vanguard yet!
These are the ‘Christians’ who have made the row
O’er warrior Wiseman, and his prowess now:
For him they sing thanksgivings in the street,
And generous wreaths are scattered at his feet;
Because he sailed across defenceless seas
To fight the ‘babies’ of the Hebrides;
Because he left his countrymen the while
To waste with Famine on an ice-bound isle!

“We have a flux of able men, ye Powers,
To help this ghastly thin-faced time of ours!
A flux of able men: there is no call
To flout the customs of the classic Hall,
Where Windeyer earned his ‘bays,’ by breaking in
With ‘village Hampdens’ destitute of ‘tin!’”
“What next, forsooth?” — a sorry bardling roars —
Not breed Buchanans for our council floors?
Not shape a Cummings for the stern debate
“Whose Attic face would grace the seat of State?”
Ah, well! When Genius is a fact again
Where cold Adversity doth blow and rain
With bitter stress, it will not spoil its growth
That some to help and foster are so loth.
Then shut and bar your academic door
And raise your mushrooms, masters, by the score;
Stick to your fine exclusiveness, and take
All credit for the mighty ones ye make:
So shall the fathers in the future days
For Slys and Dockers wag the tongue of praise;
And so, in love, shall pass from sire to son,
The fame of poet — Billy Yarrington!

“All meaner themes I leave to raw recruits,
I sing of Barton, gloves, and marvellous boots!
My bearded love! wherever I may be,
My thoughts, untravelled, stick, like scents, to thee!
’Tis often now I sweep from star to star
With Kendall’s” “Safi:” oft I rest afar
With sweet “Ione” by the yellow gleams
And shifting shadows on suggestive streams:
With Harpur too, I note the bright distress
And wilful beauty of our wilderness:
Yet, while I cross the immemorial plains
And Southern forests — while the singing lanes
Of green old England even lure the eye,
For thee, my darling, none the less I sigh!
Oh, in my dreams, thy gentle rhymes appear
And “jokes” as thick as “geebungs” hover near:
Kind, harmless jokes, enriched with many a pun,
Through which there glides the pallid ghost of Fun.
Alas, poor Yorick! Pawn the borrowed bell,
And take, from one who loves thee — loves thee well,
This friendly hint: go in for peace and pelf,
But keep thy sins — thy verses to thyself.

“Who is there next? No name whereon to dwell
From dull McSkimming up to polished Pell!
Alas, my tube! the ready theme invites,
But breath is lost when blown for parasites.
We must be ‘ganging,’ though McGibbon bawls
And thumps his cushions in his chapel-walls;
Though still unchecked the Yankee spouter raves,
And blows the dust from newly-covered graves;
Though Graham gives us bottle-glass for pearl,
And gloats o’er ethics like a gushing girl;
know we must be ‘ganging’ — trumpet, stay,
And let the saintlings sleep as well as pray.

“The silent phantom of a sinking star
Gleams swiftly past the moaning harbour-bar.
It sets me wandering over other days
And Memory turns my theme to kinder ways:
I’m dreaming, Sister, of the happy time
When men like Lowe and Wentworth claimed my rhyme;
And much it grieves my stricken soul to see
The ghosts of hopes that died with Deniehy.
’Tis now my thoughts to yonder churchyard pass,
Where Love, like April in the wilted grass,
With fallen face and melancholy eyes,
Sits weeping by the grave of Edward Wise!

“You’re hard on Kendall, caustic critics. He
Makes ample food for ‘generous’ ribaldry:
This youth of letters hath no claim, I ween,
To honours wisely kept for Richard Green?
While barber Caffyn drives and dines with ‘swells,’
And ‘lords’ are partial to the jester’s bells,
’Tis fine to see how well the censor spurns
A kindred spirit of the Scottish Burns!

He too has been a dreamer, though you damn
His many efforts and baptize him ‘sham:’
Once, in his ‘spring-time,’ when his heart was soft,
He too could rhyme by stream and field and croft;
And, as a traveller sees in windy nights
Swift water-moons blown into golden lights,
You might have seen across his face of yore
The swift delights of thoughts that are no more!
But these are dead, and, like a wearied guest,
He has few thoughts now past the thought of rest —
Few thoughts, my masters: not through you and yours,
But through a sorrow no man well endures.
Yea, steeped in trouble to the very lip,
He stands and fronts you like a lonely ship
That strives with all the sea — well beaten down
By winds that buffet and by rains that drown.

“Yet none the less, my polished Pell, admire
The steadfast sweetness of the Austral lyre
While he of arborous Ashfield still remains,
And Harpur sleeps not on the Southern plains;
While favoured Brereton dreams luxurious dreams,
And Michael haunts the glowing Grafton streams!
Some others too one day may strike the strings,
And fill the woods with wilder echoings,
And shew [for all the learned Dibbler saith,]
Much good may even come from Nazareth!
Yet none the less, my generous Moore, defend
The helpless bards who seek in thee a friend:
Who turn to thee in all their hours of need,
And find a brother and a help indeed!
Yet none the less, my faithful Bland, foredoom
The lies which mix our younger years with gloom;
The while, my best-beloved wage with thee
The fight sublime for Light and Liberty!

And none the less, my classic Stenhouse, give
The genial hope that bids the minstrel live!
Yea, if some timid youth should seek thine eyes
In whose young verse the germ of Genius lies,
Spare not thy blame, nor yet restrain thy praise
Thou fine old relic of forgotten days!
So shall the wise ones in the years to be
Belaud the bard who’ll owe so much to thee,
And so their children shall revere the name
Embalmed in kindness and the poet’s fame.


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