Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
Clapham
Ode on a Distant Prospect of Clapham Academy
Thomas Hood (1799–1845)
 
AH me! those old familiar bounds!
That classic house, those classic grounds
  My pensive thought recalls!
What tender urchins now confine,
What little captives now repine,        5
  Within yon irksome walls!
 
Ay, that ’s the very house! I know
Its ugly windows, ten a-row!
  Its chimneys in the rear!
And there ’s the iron rod so high,        10
That drew the thunder from the sky
  And turned our table-beer!
 
There I was birched! there I was bred!
There like a little Adam fed
  From Learning’s woful tree!—        15
The weary tasks I used to con!
The hopeless leaves I wept upon!
  Most fruitless leaves to me!
 
The summoned class!—the awful bow!—
I wonder who is master now        20
  And wholesome anguish sheds!
How many ushers now employs,
How many maids to see the boys
  Have nothing in their heads!
 
And Mrs. S  *  *  *?—Doth she abet        25
(Like Pallas in the parlor) yet
  Some favored two or three,—
The little Crichtons of the hour,
Her muffin-medals that devour,
  And swill her prize—Bohea?        30
 
Ay, there ’s the playground! there ’s the lime,
Beneath whose shade in summer’s prime
  So wildly I have read!—
Who sits there now, and skims the cream
Of young Romance, and weaves a dream        35
  Of love and cottage-bread?
 
Who struts the Randall of the walk?
Who models tiny heads in chalk?
  Who scoops the light canoe?
What early genius buds apace?        40
Where ’s Poynter? Harris? Bowers? Chase?
  Hal Baylis? blithe Carew?
 
Alack! they ’re gone—a thousand ways!
And some are serving in “the Greys,”
  And some have perished young!—        45
Jack Harris weds his second wife;
Hal Baylis drives the wane of life;
  And blithe Carew—is hung!
 
Grave Bowers teaches A B C
To savages at Owhyee;        50
  Poor Chase is with the worms!—
All, all are gone,—the olden breed!—
New crops of mushroom boys succeed,
  “And push us from our forms!”
 
Lo! where they scramble forth, and shout,        55
And leap, and skip, and mob about,
  At play where we have played!
Some hop, some run (some fall), some twine
Their crony arms; some in the shine,
  And some are in the shade!        60
 
Lo! there what mixed conditions run:
The orphan lad; the widow’s son;
  And fortune’s favored care,—
The wealthy born, for whom she hath
Macadamized the future path,—        65
  The nabob’s pampered heir!
 
Some brightly starred, some evil born;
For honor some, and some for scorn;
  For fair or foul renown!
Good, bad, indifferent,—none may lack!        70
Look, here ’s a White, and there ’s a Black!
  And there ’s a Creole brown!
 
Some laugh and sing, some mope and weep,
And wish their frugal sires would keep
  Their only sons at home;        75
Some tease the future tense, and plan
The full-grown doings of the man,
  And pant for years to come!
 
A foolish wish! There ’s one at hoop;
And four at fives! and five who stoop        80
  The marble taw to speed!
And one that curvets in and out,
Reining his fellow cob about,—
  Would I were in his steed!
 
Yet he would gladly halt and drop        85
That boyish harness off, to swop
  With this world’s heavy van,—
To toil, to tug. O little fool!
While thou canst be a horse at school,
  To wish to be a man!        90
 
Perchance thou deem’st it were a thing
To wear a crown,—to be a king!
  And sleep on regal down!
Alas! thou know’st not kingly cares;
Far happier is thy head that wears        95
  That hat without a crown!
 
And dost thou think that years acquire
New added joys? Dost think thy sire
  More happy than his son?
That manhood’s mirth?—O, go thy ways        100
To Drury Lane when —— plays,
  And see how forced our fun!
 
Thy taws are brave!—thy tops are rare!—
Our tops are spun with coils of care,
  Our dumps are no delight!—        105
The Elgin marbles are but tame,
And ’t is at best a sorry game
  To fly the Muse’s kite!
 
Our hearts are dough, our heels are lead,
Our topmost joys fall dull and dead        110
  Like balls with no rebound!
And often with a faded eye
We look behind, and send a sigh
  Towards that merry ground!
 
Then be contented. Thou hast got        115
The most of heaven in thy young lot;
  There ’s sky-blue in thy cup!
Thou ’lt find thy manhood all too fast,—
Soon come, soon gone! and age at last
  A sorry breaking up!        120
 
 
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