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Poem by Henry Kirke White


My Study


You bid me, Ned, describe the place
Where I, one of the rhyming race,
Pursue my studies con amore,
And wanton with the muse in glory.

Well, figure to your senses straight,
Upon the house's topmost height,
A closet just six feet by four,
With whitewash'd walls and plaster floor.
So noble large, 'tis scarcely able
To admit a single chair and table:
And (lest the muse should die with cold)
A smoky grate my fire to hold:
So wondrous small, 'twould much it pose
To melt the icedrop on one's nose;
And yet so big, it covers o'er
Full half the spacious room and more.

A window vainly stuff'd about,
To keep November's breezes out,
So crazy, that the panes proclaim
That soon they mean to leave the frame.

My furniture I sure may crack
A broken chair without a back;
A table wanting just two legs,
One end sustain'd by wooden pegs;
A deskof that I am not fervent,
The work of, Sir, your humble servant;
(Who, though I say't, am no such fumbler
A glass decanter and a tumbler,
From which my night-parch'd throat I lave,
Luxurious, with the limpid wave.
A chest of drawers, in antique sections,
And saw'd by me in all directions;
So small, Sir, that whoever views 'em
Swears nothing but a doll could use 'em.
To these, if you will add a store
Of oddities upon thee floor,
A pair of globes, electric balls,
Scales, quadrants, prisms, and cobbler's awls,
And crowds of books, on rotten shelves,
Octavos, folios, quartos, twelves;
I think, dear Ned, you curious dog,
You'll have my earthly catalogue.
But stay,I nearly had left out
My bellows destitute of snout;
And on the walls,Good Heavens! why there
I've such a load of precious ware,
Of heads, and coins, and silver medals,
And organ works, and broken pedals;
(For I was once a-building music,
Though soon of that employ I grew sick);
And skeletons of laws which shoot
All out of one primordial root;
That you, at such a sight, would swear
Confusion's self had settled there.
There stands, just by a broken sphere,
A Cicero without an ear,
A neck, on which, by logic good,
I know for sure a head once stood;
But who it was the able master
Had moulded in the mimic planter,
Whether 't was Pope, or Coke, or Burn,
I never yet could justly learn:
But knowing well, that any head
Is made to answer for the dead,
(And sculptors first their faces frame,
And after pitch upon a name,
Nor think it aught of a misnomer
To christen Chaucer's busto Homer,
Because they both have beards, which, you know,
Will mark them well from Joan, and Juno,)
For some great man, I could not tell
But Neck might answer just as well,
So perch'd it up, all in a row
With Chatham and with Cicero.

Then all around, in just degree,
A range of portraits you may see,
Of mighty men and eke of women,
Who are no whit inferior to men.

With these fair dames, and heroes round,
I call my garret classic ground.
For though confined, 't will well contain
The ideal flights of Madam Brain.
No dungeon's walls, no cell confined
Can cramp the energies of mind!
Thus, though my heart may seem so small,
I've friends, and 't will contain them all;
And should it e'er become so cold
That these it will no longer hold,
No more may Heaven her blessings give,
I shall not then be fit to live.



Henry Kirke White


Henry Kirke White's other poems:
  1. I'm Pleased and Yet I'm Sad
  2. Description of a Summers Eve
  3. The Trent
  4. To an Early Primrose
  5. The Prostitute


Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Paul Hayne My Study ("THIS is my world! within these narrow walls")

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