The Two Bridges .
'Twas when the hay gets put in stacks ,
and thatch and rope secure the crop .
Potato heaps all snugged up from harm ,
to guard against Winter's biting , frosty charm .
The bees rejoice over Summer's toils
from buds and flowers ,
delicious spoils .
Sealed up with frugal care ,
in massive waxen piles .
Doomed by the power of man ,
that tyrant of the weak .
The deaths of devils ,
smothered in brimstone smoke .
The thundering guns are heard on every side .
The wounded flocks , reeling , scatter wide .
Feathered field-mates , bound by Nature's ties .
Sires , mothers , children ,
together in hapless carnage lie .
The warm poetic heart internally bleeds ,
and executes man's savage , deadly deeds .
No more the flower in water meadow springs .
No more the forest chorus sings .
Except perhaps the Robin warbling free ,
proud , from atop some unseen tree .
The frosty mornings precede the sunny days .
Calm and serene , wide spreads the noonday blaze .
While gossamer webs ,
wave wanton in the beams and rays .
In this season , of the simple man ,
unknown and poor , tied to the land .
One night within the borough fair ,
by inspired whim , without a care ,
he left his bed and took a wayward route ,
through the sleeping town ,
and at the river , turned the left about .
He was impelled by all-directing fate ,
a lonely witness later to narrate .
Rapt in meditation's sleepy lies ,
scolded by the owl's hollow cries .
The drowsy dungeon clock had struck off two .
The church tower had sworn the fact was true .
The tide-swollen river , with sullen-sounding roar ,
through the still night
dashed foaming rills on the shingle shore .
All else was hushed , as Nature closed her eyes ,
the silent moon shone high over hills and trees ,
and the sparkling frost , beneath the silver beams ,
crept , gently kissing , over the glittering stream .
When , lo ! on both sides listening hard ,
the sigh of whistling wings is heard .
Two dusky forms dart through the unseen air ,
swift as the goshawk dives on the wheeling hare .
One , on the old bridge , his phantom shape appears .
The other flutters , over the newly rising piers .
The warlock wizard would instantly recognize ,
the sprites that over the bridges do preside .
Simple men are second-sighted ,
and it's no joke .
They know the language of the spiritual folk .
Will 'o the wisps , fairies , water-demons ,
they can explain about them all .
And in the shadow of the very devil
the common man stands resolute and tall .
The old bridge appeared of ancient Pictish race .
The Gothic carvings wrinkling his heavy face .
He seemed as if with time he'd wrestled long ,
yet , toughly stubborn , he stood still strong .
The new bridge stood proud , in marble coat ,
that he from London's masons got .
And in his hand , five tapered staves , smooth as beads ,
with rings and whirlygigs around the head .
The Goth was stalking round with anxious search ,
spying the time-worn flaws in every arch .
Then his new-come neighbour took his eye ,
and with a vexed and angry heart ,
down across the water ,
gives him this awful spiteful cry -
Old Bridge .
I don't doubt , friend , you think yourself no small beer .
Once you were stretched from bank to bank ,
joining there to here .
But will you ever be a bridge as old as me ?
I doubt that date , you will never see .
There will be , if that day should come ,
and I would wage my life for death ,
some fewer whigmeleeries in your head .
New Bridge .
Old fool , time has robbed you of your senses .
Took you beyond repair and past redemption .
With your narrow foot-path of a street ,
where passing people tremble when they meet .
Your ruined , eroding bulk of stone and lime .
You cannot compare yourself with me ,
a bridge of modern times.
Men of taste would rather swim the stream
and voice their point of view ,
than take a chance across the river ,
on an ugly Gothic hulk like you .
Old Bridge .
Concieted cuckoo ! puffed up with
newly constructed windy pride !
For many a long year
I have withstood the flood and tide .
And though with crazy age I'm all worn down .
I'll still be a bridge
when you are a jumble of shapeless stone .
As yet , you know little of the matter .
Two or three winters will inform you better .
When heavy , dark , continued all-day rains ,
with deepening deluges overflow the plains .
Aroused by blustering winds and drenching thaws ,
in many a torrent down the snow-melt rolls .
While crashing ice , borne on the roaring spate ,
sweeps dams , and mills , and lesser bridges ,
and lays the works of destruction at your gate .
Then from the boiling pools to the tidal keys ,
all land is just one submerged , tumbling , sea .
Down you will crash ! Never more to rise .
And the muddy splashes will stain the pouring skies .
A lesson sadly learnt , to your eternal cost .
That Architecture's noble art is irredeemably lost !
New Bridge .
Fine architecture indeed !
I must say something of it .
Just look at you , old man .
Gaunt and ghastly , with ghost-alluring edifices .
Hanging and jutting , with crumbling precipices .
Over arching , mouldy , gloom-inspiring coves .
With parapets moss encrusted and overgrown .
Buttresses in nameless, shapeless , sculptures dressed .
No order , no symmetry , no taste .
Your old form is like some statuary's bedlam dream .
The crazy creation of some misguided whim .
Fit only for a stupid monkish race ,
or frosty maids who cringe from your stony embrace .
Or fools from later times ,
who hold the notion ,
that sullen gloom is true devotion .
Your old blocks offer no protection .
Soon may you expire ,
unblessed with resurrection !
Old Bridge .
Oh you ! my dear remembered siblings ,
Where are you now ?
To share my wounded feelings .
You worthy provosts and magistrates ,
who in the paths of righteousness did elucidate .
You pious deacons and hard conveners ,
with your modern way of contravening .
The godly council who built this town ,
the closed brethren of the sacred gown ,
who meekly turn the cheek to be smitten ,
every one of you will break the rules
of every law that was ever written .
Yes , all you soft folk ,
I've borne above the flood .
And if you were here ,
what would you say or do ?
Your words would do no good .
How would your spirits groan in deep vexation
to see each melancholy alteration .
And agonizing , curse the time and place ,
to realize you begat
this base , degenerate race .
No longer reverend men , basked in glory .
No longer thrifty citizens , holding forth in story .
No common man , meek and douce ,
planning schemes in the council-house .
But half-witted , hard-headed , graceless gentry ,
causing harrying and ruination of the country .
Made three-parts by taylors , and one by barbers .
Who waste your well saved taxes ,
on damned new bridges and harbours .
New Bridge .
Hold your tongue ! you've said enough .
No more of what you say is good .
For your priesthood I will say little ,
the ravens and the clergy are joined in bitter battle .
But under favour of your verbal spears ,
abuse of magistrates might well be spared .
To liken them to your old world squad ,
in these modern times seems odd .
No more the council waddles down these streets
in all the pomp of ignorant conciet .
These men grew rich ,
haggling over the price of hops and seeds ,
gathering the liberal view in bonds and deeds .
If General Knowledge , on a random tramp ,
had showed them , in the darkness ,
with a glimmer from his lamp .
And would that Common Sense , for once ,
so callously betrayed them .
Plain , dull stupidity ,
stepped kindly in to aid them .
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