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The Complete Poetical Works . Naden, Constance, 1858–1889.
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EVOLUTIONAL EROTICS

page: 307

SCIENTIFIC WOOING.

  • I WAS a youth of studious mind,
  • Fair Science was my mistress kind,
  • And held me with attraction chemic;
  • No germs of Love attacked my heart,
  • Secured as by Pasteurian art
  • Against that fatal epidemic.
  • For when my daily task was o’er
  • I dreamed of ,
  • While stealing through my slumbers placid
  • Came Iodine, with violet fumes,
  • And Sulphur, with its yellow blooms,
  • And whiffs of Hydrochloric Acid.
  • My daily visions, thoughts, and schemes
  • With wildest hope illumed my dreams,
  • The daring dreams of trustful twenty:
  • I might accomplish my desire,
  • And set the river Thames on fire
  • If but Potassium were in plenty!
page: 308
  • Alas! that yearnings so sublime
  • Should all be blasted in their prime
  • By hazel eyes and lips vermilion!
  • Ye gods! restore the halcyon days
  • While yet I walked in Wisdom’s ways,
  • And knew not Mary Maud Trevylyan!
  • Yet nay! the sacrilegious prayer
  • Was not mine own, oh fairest fair!
  • Thee, dear one, will I ever cherish;
  • Thy worshipped image shall remain
  • In the grey thought‐cells of my brain
  • Until their form and function perish.
  • Away with books, away with cram
  • For Intermediate Exam.!
  • Away with every college duty!
  • Though once Agnostic to the core,
  • A virgin Saint I now adore,
  • And swear belief in Love and Beauty.
  • Yet when I meet her tranquil gaze,
  • I dare not plead, I dare not praise,
  • Like other men with other lasses;
  • She’s never kind, she’s never coy,
  • She treats me simply as a boy,
  • And asks me how I like my classes!
page: 309
  • I covet not her golden dower—
  • Yet surely Love’s attractive power
  • Directly as the mass must vary—
  • But ah! inversely as the square
  • Of distance! shall I ever dare
  • To cross the gulf, and gain my Mary?
  • So chill she seems—and yet she might
  • Welcome with radiant heat and light
  • My courtship, if I once began it;
  • For is not e’en the palest star
  • That gleams so coldly from afar
  • A sun to some revolving planet?
  • My Mary! be a solar sphere!
  • Envy no comet’s mad career,
  • No arid, airless lunar crescent!
  • Oh for a spectroscope to show
  • That in thy gentle eyes doth glow
  • Love’s vapour, pure and incandescent!
  • Bright fancy! can I fail to please
  • If with similitudes like these
  • I lure the maid to sweet communion?
  • My suit, with Optics well begun,
  • By Magnetism shall be won,
  • And closed at last in Chemic union!
page: 310
  • At this I’ll aim, for this I’ll toil,
  • And this I’ll reach—I will, by Boyle,
  • By Avogadro, and by Davy!
  • When every science lends a trope
  • To feed my love, to fire my hope,
  • Her maiden pride must cry is “Peccavi!”
  • I’ll sing a deep Darwinian lay
  • Of little birds with plumage gay,
  • Who solved by courtship Life’s enigma;
  • I’ll teach her how the wild‐flowers love,
  • And why the trembling stamens move,
  • And how the anthers kiss the stigma.
  • Or Mathematically true
  • With rigorous Logic will I woo,
  • And not a word I’ll say at random;
  • Till urged by Syllogistic stress,
  • She falter forth a tearful “Yes,”
  • A sweet “Quod erat demonstrandum!”
page: 311

THE NEW ORTHODOXY.

  • SO, dear Fred, you’re not content
  • Though I quote the books you lent,
  • And I’ve kept that spray you sent
  • Of the milk‐white heather;
  • For you fear I’m too “advanced”
  • To remember all that chanced
  • In the old days, when we danced,
  • Walked, and rode together.
  • Trust me, Fred, beneath the curls
  • Of the most “advanced” of girls,
  • Many a foolish fancy whirls,
  • Bidding Fact defiance,
  • And the simplest village maid
  • Needs not to be much afraid
  • Of her sister, sage and staid,
  • Bachelor of Science.
page: 312
  • Ah! while yet our hope was new
  • Guardians thought ’twould never do
  • That Sir Frederick’s heir should woo
  • Little Amy Merton:
  • So the budding joy they snatched
  • From our hearts, so meetly matched—
  • You to Oxford they despatched,
  • Me they sent to Girton.
  • Were the vows all writ in dust!
  • No—you’re one‐and‐twenty—just—
  • And you write—“We will, we must
  • Now, at once, be married!”
  • Nay, you plan the wedding trip!
  • Softly, sir! there’s many a slip
  • Ere the goblet to the lip
  • Finally is carried.
  • Oh, the wicked tales I hear!
  • Not that you at Ruskin jeer,
  • Nor that at Carlyle you sneer,
  • With his growls dyspeptic:
  • But that, having read in vain
  • Huxley, Tyndall, Clifford, Bain,
  • All the scientific train—
  • You’re a hardened sceptic!
page: 313
  • Things with fin, and claw, and hoof
  • Join to give us perfect proof
  • That our being’s warp and woof
  • We from near and far win;
  • Yet your flippant doubts you vaunt,
  • And—to please a maiden aunt—
  • You’ve been heard to say you can’t
  • Pin your faith to Darwin!
  • Then you jest, because Laplace
  • Said this Earth was nought but gas
  • Till the vast rotating mass
  • Denser grew and denser:
  • Something worse they whisper too,
  • But I’m sure it can’t be true—
  • For they tell me, Fred, that you
  • Scoff at Herbert Spencer!
  • Write—or telegraph—or call!
  • Come yourself and tell me all:
  • No fond hope shall me enthrall,
  • No regret shall sway me:
  • Yet—until the worst is said,
  • Till I know your faith is dead,
  • I remain, dear doubting Fred,
  • Your believing
  • AMY.
page: 314

NATURAL SELECTION.

  • I HAD found out a gift for my fair,
  • I had found where the cave‐men were laid;
  • Skull, femur, and pelvis were there,
  • And spears, that of silex they made.
  • But he ne’er could be true, she averred,
  • Who would dig up an ancestor’s grave—
  • And I loved her the more when I heard
  • Such filial regard for the Cave.
  • My shelves, they are furnished with stones
  • All sorted and labelled with care,
  • And a splendid collection of bones,
  • Each one of them ancient and rare;
  • One would think she might like to retire
  • To my study—she calls it a “hole!”
  • Not a fossil I heard her admire,
  • But I begged it, or borrowed, or stole.
page: 315
  • But there comes an idealess lad,
  • With a strut, and a stare, and a smirk;
  • And I watch, scientific though sad,
  • The Law of Selection at work.
  • Of Science he hasn’t a trace,
  • He seeks not the How and the Why,
  • But he sings with an amateur’s grace,
  • And he dances much better than I.
  • And we know the more dandified males
  • By dance and by song win their wives—
  • ’Tis a law that with Aves prevails,
  • And even in Homo survives.
  • Shall I rage as they whirl in the valse?
  • Shall I sneer as they carol and coo?
  • Ah no! for since Chloe is false,
  • I’m certain that Darwin is true!
page: 316

SOLOMON REDIVIVUS, 1886.

  • WHAT am I? Ah, you know it,
  • I am the modern Sage,
  • Seer, savant, merchant, poet—
  • I am, in brief, the Age.
  • Look not upon my glory
  • Of gold and sandal‐wood,
  • But sit and hear a story
  • From Darwin and from Buddh.
  • Count not my Indian treasures,
  • All wrought in curious shapes,
  • My labours and my pleasures,
  • My peacocks and my apes;
  • For when you ask me riddles,
  • And when I answer each,
  • Until my fifes and fiddles
  • Burst in and drown our speech,
page: 317
  • Oh then your soul astonished
  • Must surely faint and fail,
  • Unless, by me admonished,
  • You hear our wondrous tale.
  • We were a soft Amœba
  • In ages past and gone,
  • Ere you were Queen Of Sheba,
  • And I King Solomon.
  • Unorganed, undivided,
  • We lived in happy sloth,
  • And all that you did I did,
  • One dinner nourished both:
  • Till you incurred the odium
  • Of fission and divorce—
  • A severed pseudopodium
  • You strayed your lonely course.
  • When next we met together
  • Our cycles to fulfil,
  • Each was a bag of leather,
  • With stomach and with gill.
page: 318
  • But our Ascidian morals
  • Recalled that old mischance,
  • And we avoided quarrels
  • By separate maintenance.
  • Long ages passed—our wishes
  • Were fetterless and free,
  • For we were jolly fishes,
  • A‐swimming in the sea.
  • We roamed by groves of coral,
  • We watched the youngsters play—
  • The memory and the moral
  • Had vanished quite away.
  • Next, each became a reptile,
  • With fangs to sting and slay;
  • No wiser ever crept, I’ll
  • Assert, deny who may.
  • But now, disdaining trammels
  • Of scale and limbless coil,
  • Through every grade of mammals
  • We passed with upward toil.
page: 319
  • Till, anthropoid and wary
  • Appeared the parent ape,
  • And soon we grew less hairy,
  • And soon began to drape.
  • So, from that soft Amœba,
  • In ages past and gone,
  • You’ve grown the Queen of Sheba,
  • And I King Solomon.
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