The Poetry Corner

An Extempore

By John Keats

When they were come into Faery's Court They rang, no one at home, all gone to sport And dance and kiss and love as faerys do For Faries be as human lovers true, Amid the woods they were so lone and wild Where even the Robin feels himself exil'd And where the very books as if affraid Hurry along to some less magic shade. 'No one at home'! the fretful princess cry'd 'And all for nothing such a dre[a]ry ride And all for nothing my new diamond cross No one to see my persian feathers toss No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule. Ape, Dwarf and Fool why stand you gaping there Burst the door open, quick, or I declare I'll switch you soundly and in pieces tear.' The Dwarf began to tremble and the Ape Star'd at the Fool, the Fool was all agape The Princess grasp'd her switch but just in time The Dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme. "O mighty Princess did you ne'er hear tell What your poor servants know but too too well Know you the three great crimes in faery land The first alas! poor Dwarf I understand I made a whipstock of a faery's wand The next is snoring in their company The next the last the direst of the three Is making free when they are not at home. I was a Prince, a baby prince, my doom You see, I made a whipstock of a wand My top has henceforth slept in faery land. He was a Prince the Fool, a grown up Prince But he has never been a King's son since He fell a snoring at a faery Ball Your poor Ape was a Prince and he poor thing But ape, so pray your highness stay awhile 'Tis sooth indeed we know it to our sorrow, Persist and you may be an ape tomorrow, While the Dwarf spake the Princess all for spite Peal'd the brown hazel twig to lilly white Clench'd her small teeth, and held her lips apart Try'd to look unconcerned with beating heart. They saw her highness had made up her mind And quaver'd like the reeds before the wind And they had had it, but O happy chance The Ape for very fear began to dance And grin'd as all his uglyness did ache, She staid her vixen fingers for his sake He was so very ugly: then she took Her pocket mirror and began to look First at herself and [then] at him and then She smil'd at her own beauteous face again. Yet for all this, for all her pretty face She took it in her head to see the place. Women gain little from experience Either in Lovers, husbands or expense. The more their beauty the more fortune too Beauty before the wide world never knew. So each fair reasons, tho' it oft miscarries. She thought her pretty face would please the fa[e]ries. "My darling Ape I wont whip you today Give me the Picklock sirrah and go play." They all three wept but counsel was as vain As crying cup biddy to drops of rain. Yet lingeringly did the sad Ape forth draw The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw. The Princess took it and dismounting straight Trip'd in blue silver'd slippers to the gate And touch'd the wards, the Door full courteously Opened, she enter'd with her servants three. Again it clos'd and there was nothing seen But the Mule grasing on the herbage green. End of Canto xii. Canto the xiii. The Mule no sooner saw himself alone Than he prick'd up his Ears, and said 'well done! At least unhappy Prince I may be free, No more a Princess shall side saddle me O King of Othaiete, tho' a Mule 'Aye every inch a King', tho' 'Fortune's fool.' Well done, for by what Mr. Dwarfy said I would not give a sixpence for her head.' Even as he spake he trotted in high glee To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree And rub'd his sides against the mossed bark Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark Except his Bridle, how get rid of that Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait. At last it struck him to pretend to sleep And then the thievish Monkies down would creep And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away. No sooner thought of than adown he lay Sham'd a good snore, the Monkey-men descended And whom they thought to injure they befriended. They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough And of[f] he went run, trot, or anyhow,