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John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

An Extempore


When they were come into Faery's Court
They rang -- no one at home -- all gone to sport
And dance and kiss and love as faerys do
For Faries be as human lovers true --
Amid the woods they were so lone and wild
Where even the Robin feels himself exil'd
And where the very books as if affraid
Hurry along to some less magic shade.
'No one at home'! the fretful princess cry'd
'And all for nothing such a dre[a]ry ride
And all for nothing my new diamond cross
No one to see my persian feathers toss
No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool
Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule.
Ape, Dwarf and Fool why stand you gaping there
Burst the door open, quick -- or I declare
I'll switch you soundly and in pieces tear.'
The Dwarf began to tremble and the Ape
Star'd at the Fool, the Fool was all agape
The Princess grasp'd her switch but just in time
The Dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme.
'O mighty Princess did you ne'er hear tell
What your poor servants know but too too well
Know you the three great crimes in faery land
The first alas! poor Dwarf I understand
I made a whipstock of a faery's wand
The next is snoring in their company
The next the last the direst of the three
Is making free when they are not at home.
I was a Prince -- a baby prince -- my doom
You see, I made a whipstock of a wand
My top has henceforth slept in faery land.
He was a Prince the Fool, a grown up Prince
But he has never been a King's son since
He fell a snoring at a faery Ball
Your poor Ape was a Prince and he poor thing
But ape -- so pray your highness stay awhile
'Tis sooth indeed we know it to our sorrow --
Persist and you may be an ape tomorrow --
While the Dwarf spake the Princess all for spite
Peal'd the brown hazel twig to lilly white
Clench'd her small teeth, and held her lips apart
Try'd to look unconcerned with beating heart.
They saw her highness had made up her mind
And quaver'd like the reeds before the wind
And they had had it, but O happy chance
The Ape for very fear began to dance
And grin'd as all his uglyness did ache--
She staid her vixen fingers for his sake
He was so very ugly: then she took
Her pocket mirror and began to look
First at herself and [then] at him and then
She smil'd at her own beauteous face again.
Yet for all this -- for all her pretty face
She took it in her head to see the place.
Women gain little from experience
Either in Lovers, husbands or expense.
The more their beauty the more fortune too
Beauty before the wide world never knew.
So each fair reasons -- tho' it oft miscarries.
She thought her pretty face would please the fa[e]ries.
'My darling Ape I wont whip you today
Give me the Picklock sirrah and go play.'
They all three wept but counsel was as vain
As crying cup biddy to drops of rain.
Yet lingeringly did the sad Ape forth draw
The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw.
The Princess took it and dismounting straight
Trip'd in blue silver'd slippers to the gate
And touch'd the wards, the Door full courteously
Opened -- she enter'd with her servants three.
Again it clos'd and there was nothing seen
But the Mule grasing on the herbage green.
End of Canto xii.

Canto the xiii.
The Mule no sooner saw himself alone
Than he prick'd up his Ears -- and said 'well done!
At least unhappy Prince I may be free --
No more a Princess shall side saddle me
O King of Othaiete -- tho' a Mule
'Aye every inch a King' -- tho' 'Fortune's fool.'
Well done -- for by what Mr. Dwarfy said
I would not give a sixpence for her head.'
Even as he spake he trotted in high glee
To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree
And rub'd his sides against the mossed bark
Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark
Except his Bridle -- how get rid of that
Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait.
At last it struck him to pretend to sleep
And then the thievish Monkies down would creep
And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away.
No sooner thought of than adown he lay
Sham'd a good snore -- the Monkey-men descended
And whom they thought to injure they befriended.
They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough
And of[f] he went run, trot, or anyhow--

Submitted: Monday, March 22, 2010

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