From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


THERE’S a lodger lives on the first floor;
(My lodgings are up in the garret;)
At night and at morn he taketh a horn,
And calleth his neighbors to share it,—
A horn so long and a horn so strong,
I wonder how they can bear it.

I don’t mean to say that he drinks,—
I might be indicted for scandal.
But every one knows it, he night and day blows it,
(I wish he’d blow out like a candle!)
His horn is so long, and he blows it so strong,
He would make Handel fly off the handle.

By taking a horn I don’t hint
That he swigs either rum, gin, or whiskey.
It’s we, I am thinking, condemned to be drinking
His strains that attempt to be frisky,
But are grievously sad. A donkey, I add,
Is as musical, braying in his key.

It’s a puzzle to know what he’s at.
I could pity him if it were madness.
I never yet knew him to play a tune through;
And it gives me more anger than sadness
To hear his l1orn stutter and stammer in utter
Confusion of musical badness.

At his wide-open window he stands,
Overlooking his bit of a garden.
One can see the great ass at one end of his brass
Blaring out, never asking your pardon.
Our nerves though he shatter, to him it’s no matter,
As long as his tympanums harden.

He thinks, I’ve no doubt, it is sweet,—
While time, tune, and breath are all straying.
The little house-sparrows feel all through their marrows
The jar and the fuss of his playing;
The windows are shaking, the babies are waking,
The very dogs howling and baying.

One note out of twenty he hits;
Blows all his pianos, like fortes
His time is his own. He goes sounding alone,
A sort of Columbus or Cortes,
On a perilous ocean, without any notion
Whereabouts in the dim deep his port is.

If he gets to his haven at last,
He must needs be a desperate swimmer.
He has plenty of wind, but no compass, I find;
And being a veteran trimmer,
He veers and he tacks, and returns on his tracks;
And his prospects grow dimmer and dimmer.

Like a man late from club, he has lost
His key, and around stumbles, moping,
Touching this, trying that,—now a sharp, now a flat,—
Till he strikes on the note he is hoping;
And a terrible blare at the end of his air
Shows he’s got through at last with his groping.

There, he’s finished,—at least for a while;
He is tired, or come to his senses;
And out of his horn shakes the drops that were borne
By the winds of his musical frenzies.
There’s a rest, thank our stars! of ninety-nine bars,
Ere the tempest of sound recommences.

When all the bad players are sent
Where all the false notes are protested,
I ‘m sure that Old Nick will there play him a trick,
When his bad trump and he are arrested;
And down in the regions of discord’s mad legions
His head with two French horns be crested!

PARIS, August, 1856.

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