The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

Ode to Joseph Grimaldi, Senior.

“This fellow’s wise enough to play the fool,

And to do that well craves a kind of wit.”

Twelfth Night.

1.

Joseph! they say thou’st left the stage,

To toddle down the hill of life,

And taste the flannel’d ease of age,

Apart from pantomimic strife —

“Retir’d —(for Young would call it so)—

The world shut out”— in Pleasant Row!

2.

And hast thou really wash’d at last

From each white cheek the red half-moon!

And all thy public Clownship cast,

To play the private Pantaloon?

All youth — all ages — yet to be

Shall have a heavy miss of thee!

3.

Thou didst not preach to make us wise —

Thou hadst no finger in our schooling —

Thou didst not “lure us to the skies”—

Thy simple, simple trade was — Fooling!

And yet, Heav’n knows! we could — we can

Much “better spare a better man!”

4.

Oh, had it pleased the gout to take

The reverend Croly from the stage,

Or Southey, for our quiet’s sake,

Or Mr. Fletcher, Cupid’s sage,

Or, damme! namby-pamby Poole —

Or any other clown or fool!

5.

Go, Dibdin — all that bear the name,

Go, Byeway Highway man! go! go!

Go, Skeffy — man of painted fame,

But leave thy partner, painted Joe!

I could bear Kirby on the wane,

Or Signor Paulo with a sprain!

6.

Had Joseph Wilfrid Parkins made

His gray hairs scarce in private peace —

Had Waithman sought a rural shade —

Or Cobbett ta’en a turnpike lease —

Or Lisle Bowles gone to Balaam Hill —

I think I could be cheerful still!

7.

Had Medwin left off, to his praise,

Dead lion kicking, like — a friend! —

Had long, long Irving gone his ways,

To Muse on death at Ponder’s End

Or Lady Morgan taken leave

Of Letters — still I might not grieve!

8.

But, Joseph — everybody’s Jo! —

Is gone — and grieve I will and must!

As Hamlet did for Yorick, so

Will I for thee (though not yet dust),

And talk as he did when he miss’d

The kissing-crust that he had kiss’d!

9.

Ah, where is now thy rolling head!

Thy winking, reeling, drunken eyes,

(As old Catullus would have said),

Thy oven-mouth, that swallow’d pies —

Enormous hunger — monstrous drowth!

Thy pockets greedy as thou mouth!

10.

Ah, where thy ears, so often cuff’d! —

Thy funny, flapping, filching hands! —

Thy partridge body, always stuff’d

With waifs, and strays, and contrabands! —

Thy foot — like Berkeley’s Foote— for why?

’Twas often made to wipe an eye!

11.

Ah, where thy legs — that witty pair!

For “great wits jump”— and so did they!

Lord! how they leap’d in lamplight air!

Caper’d — and bounc’d — and strode away! —

That years should tame the legs — alack!

I’ve seen spring thro’ an Almanack!

12.

But bounds will have their bound — the shocks

Of Time will cramp the nimblest toes;

And those that frisk’d in silken clocks

May look to limp in fleecy hose —

One only —(Champion of the ring)

Could ever make his Winter — Spring!

13.

And gout, that owns no odds between

The toe of Czar and toe of Clown,

Will visit — but I did not mean

To moralize, though I am grown

Thus sad — Thy going seem’d to beat

A muffled drum for Fun’s retreat!

14.

And, may be —’tis no time to smother

A sigh, when two prime wags of London

Are gone — thou, Joseph, one — the other

A Joe! —“sic transit gloria Munden!”

A third departure some insist on —

Stage-apoplexy threatens Liston! —

15.

Nay, then, let Sleeping Beauty sleep

With ancient ”Dozey“ to the dregs —

Let Mother Goose wear mourning deep,

And put a hatchment o’er her eggs!

Let Farley weep — for Magic’s man

Is gone — his Christmas Caliban!

16.

Let Kemble, Forbes, and Willet rain,

As tho’ they walk’d behind thy bier —

For since thou wilt not play again,

What matters — if in heav’n or here!

Or in thy grave, or in thy bed! —

There’s Quick might just as well be dead!

17.

Oh, how will thy departure cloud

The lamplight of the little breast!

The Christmas child will grieve aloud

To miss his broadest friend and best —

Poor urchin! what avails to him

The cold New Monthly’s Ghost of Grimm?

18.

For who like thee could ever stride!

Some dozen paces to the mile! —

The motley, medley coach provide —

Or like Joe Frankenstein compile

The vegetable man complete! —

A proper Covent Garden feat!

19.

Oh, who like thee could ever drink,

Or eat — swill, swallow — bolt — and choke!

Nod, weep, and hiccup — sneeze and wink? —

Thy very yawn was quite a joke!

Tho’ Joseph, Junior, acts not ill,

“There’s no Fool like the old Fool” still!

20.

Joseph, farewell! dear funny Joe!

We met with mirth — we part in pain!

For many a long, long year must go

Ere Fun can see thy like again —

For Nature does not keep great stores

Of perfect Clowns — that are not Boors!

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem87.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51