Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes,
Nibble their toast, and cool their tea with sighs,
Or else forget the purpose of the night,
Forget their tea, forget their appetite.
See with cross’d arms they sit, ah! happy crew,
The fire is going out and no one rings
For coals, and therefore no coals Betty brings.
A fly is in the milk-pot, must he die
By a humane society?
No, no; there Mr. Werter takes his spoon,
Inserts it, dips the handle, and lo! soon
The little straggler, sav’d from perils dark,
Across the teaboard draws a long wet mark.
Arise! take snuffers by the handle,
There’s a large cauliflower in each candle.
A winding-sheet, ah me! I must away
To No. 7, just beyond the circus gay.
‘Alas, my friend! your coat sits very well;
Where may your tailor live?’ ‘I may not tell.
O pardon me, I’m absent now and then.
Where might my tailor live? I say again
I cannot tell, let me no more be teaz’d,
He lives in Wapping, might live where he pleas’d.’
‘This is one of the many varieties of the Winchester journal-letter of September 1819, as published in the New York World on the 25th of June 1877. Keats characterizes the jeu d’esprit as “a few nonsense verses.” They were probably written on the 17th of September; they illustrated the following passage in the journal-letter:–
“Nothing strikes me so forcibly with a sense of ridiculous as love. A man in love I do think cuts the sorriest figure in the world. Even when I know a poor fool to be really in pain about it I could burst out laughing in his face. His pathetic visage becomes irresistible. Not that I take H. as a pattern for lovers; he is a very worthy man and a good friend. His love is very amusing. Somewhere in the Spectator is related an account of a man inviting a party of stutterers and squinters to his table. It would please me more to scrape together a party of lovers; not to dinner, no, to tea. There would be no fighting as among knights of old.’
Note: This poem is in the public domain.