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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Time to Be Wise

Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864)

YES; I write verses now and then,

But blunt and flaccid is my pen,

No longer talked of by young men

As rather clever:

In the last quarter are my eyes,

You see it by their form and size;

Is it not time then to be wise?

Or now or never.

Fairest that ever sprang from Eve!

While Time allows the short reprieve,

Just look at me! would you believe

’Twas once a lover?

I cannot clear the five-bar gate,

But, trying first its timbers’ state,

Climb stiffly up, take breath, and wait

To trundle over.

Thro’ gallopade I cannot swing

The entangling blooms of Beauty’s spring:

I cannot say the tender thing,

Be’t true or false,

And am beginning to opine

Those girls are only half-divine

Whose waists yon wicked boys entwine

In giddy waltz.

I fear that arm above that shoulder,

I wish them wiser, graver, older,

Sedater, and no harm if colder

And panting less.

Ah! people were not half so wild

In former days, when, starchly mild,

Upon her high-heel’d Essex smiled

The brave Queen Bess.