In Black & White


Title Page
Under the Hill

The Art of the Hoarding
Letters to his Critics
   Pall Mall Budget
   Daily Chronicle
   St. Paul’s
Table Talk
Lines upon Pictures
   St Rose of Lima

The Three Musicians
The Ballad of a Barber
Ave Atque Vale
The Celestial Lover
The Ivory Piece
Prospectus for Volpone

Appendix : Juvenilia
The Valiant
A Ride in an Omnibus
The Confession Album
The Courts of Love
Dante in Exile
Written in Uncertainty
The Morte Darthur

Enoch Soames

Under the Hill

The Three Musicians
The Three Musicians
The Three Musicians - first version

Along the path that skirts the wood,
            The three musicians wend their way,
Pleased with their thoughts, each other’s mood,
            Franz Himmel’s latest roundelay,
The morning’s work, a new-found theme,
                         their breakfast and the summer day.

One’s a soprano, lightly frocked
            In cool, white muslin that just shows
Her brown silk stockings gaily clocked,
            Plump arms and elbows tipped with rose,
And frills of petticoats and things, and outlines
                         as the warm wind blows.

Beside her a slim, gracious boy
            Hastens to mend her tresses’ fall,
And dies her favour to enjoy,
            And dies for réclame and recall
At Paris and St. Petersburg, Vienna and St. James’s Hall.

The third’s a Polish Pianist
            With big engagements everywhere,
A light heart and an iron wrist,             
            And shocks and shoals of yellow hair,
And fingers that can trill on sixths and fill beginners with despair.

The three musicians stroll along
            And pluck the ears of ripened corn,
Break into odds and ends of song,
            And mock the woods with Siegfried’s horn,
And fill the air with Gluck, and fill the tweeded tourist’s soul with scorn.

The Three Musicians
The Three Musicians - published version

The Polish genius lags behind,
            And, with some poppies in his hand,
Picks out the strings and wood and wind             
            Of an imaginary band,
Enchanted that for once his men obey
                          his beat and understand.

The charming cantatrice reclines
            And rests a moment where she sees
Her chateau’s roof that hotly shines
             Amid the dusky summer trees,
And fans herself, half shuts her eyes, and smoothes
                          the frock about her knees.

The gracious boy is at her feet,
            And weighs his courage with his chance;
His fears soon melt in noon-day heat.
            The tourist gives a furious glance,
Red as his guide-book grows, moves on,
                          and offers up a prayer for France.

¶ 1895. First published in The Savoy, No.1, Jan 1896. Written during the Summer of 1895 at Arques-la-Bataille and in Dieppe. Arthur Symons described the verses as being “in their own way, a tour de force,” but peevishly added that they revealed only that Aubrey had succeeding “in doing what he certainly had no aptitude for doing.” According to a highly unlikely legend, the first version of the drawing made to accompany these verses was censored by Leonard Smithers, who is reputed to have thought the pose of the young man, with his hand upon the girl’s knee, too suggestive.