Tema Con Variazioni
Why is it that Poetry has never yet been subjected to that process of Dilution which has proved so advantageous to her sister-art Music? The Diluter gives us first a few notes of some well-known Air, then a dozen bars of his own, then a few more notes of the Air, and so on alternately: thus saving the listener, if not from all risk of recognising the melody at all, at least from the too-exciting transports which it might produce in a more concentrated form. The process is termed "setting" by Composers, and any one, that has ever experienced the emotion of being unexpectedly set down in a heap of mortar, will recognise the truthfulness of this happy phrase.
For truly, just as the genuine Epicure lingers lovingly over a
morsel of supreme Venison - whose every fibre seems to murmur "Excelsior!" - yet swallows, ere returning to the toothsome dainty, great mouthfuls of oatmeal-porridge and winkles: and just as the perfect Connoisseur in Claret permits himself but one delicate sip, and then tosses off a pint or more of boarding-school beer: so also -
I NEVER loved a dear Gazelle -
NOR ANYTHING THAT COST ME MUCH:
HIGH PRICES PROFIT THOSE WHO SELL,
BUT WHY SHOULD I BE FOND OF SUCH?
To glad me with his soft black eye
MY SON COMES TROTTING HOME FROM SCHOOL;
HE'S HAD A FIGHT BUT CAN'T TELL WHY -
HE ALWAYS WAS A LITTLE FOOL!
But, when he came to know me well,
HE KICKED ME OUT, HER TESTY SIRE:
AND WHEN I STAINED MY HAIR, THAT BELLE
MIGHT NOTE THE CHANGE, AND THUS ADMIRE
And love me, it was sure to dye
A MUDDY GREEN OR STARING BLUE:
WHILST ONE MIGHT TRACE, WITH HALF AN EYE,
THE STILL TRIUMPHANT CARROT THROUGH.