The Southern Cross.

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FOUR stars on Night's brow, or Night's bosom,
Whichever the reader prefers;
Or Night without either may do some,
Each one to his taste or to hers.
Four stars — to continue inditing,
So long as I feel in the vein —
Hullo! what the deuce is that biting? Mosquitos again!
Oh glories not gilded but golden,
Oh daughters of Night unexcelled,
By the sons of the north unbeholden,
By our sons (if we have them) beheld;
Oh jewels the midnight enriching,
Oh four which are double of twain!
Oh mystical — bother the itching! Mosquitos again!
You alone I can anchor my eye on,
Of you and you only I'll write:
And I now look awry on Orion,
That once was my chiefest delight.
Ye exalt me high over the petty
Conditions of pleasure and pain —
Oh Heaven! here are these maladetti Mosquitos again!
The poet should ever be placid.
Oh vex not his soul or his skin!
Shall I scare them with chemical acid?
It is done, and afresh I begin.
Lucid orbs! — that last sting very sore is;
I am fain to leave off, I am fain;
It has given me uncommon dolores — Simpliciter, pain.
Not quite what the shape of a cross is —
A little lop-sided, I own —
Confound your infernal proboscis,
Inserted well nigh to the bone!
Queen-lights of the heights of high heaven,
Ensconced in the crystal inane —
Oh me! here are seventy times seven Mosquitos again!
Oh horns of a mighty trapezium!
Quadrilateral area, hail!
Oh bright as the light of magnesium! —
Oh hang them all, female and male!
At the end of an hour of their stinging,
What shall rest of me then, what remain?
I shall die as the swan dieth, singing,Mosquitos again!
Shock keen as the stroke of the levin!
hey sting, and I change in a flash
From the peace and the poppies of heaven
To the flame and the firewood of — dash!
Oh Cross of the South, I forgot you!
These demons have addled my brain.
Once more I look upward. . . . Od rot you! You're at it again!
There! stick in your pitiless brad-awl,
And do your malevolent worst!
Dine on me, and when you have had all,
Let others go in for a burst!
Oh silent and pure constellation,
Can you pardon my fretful refrain?
Forgive, oh forgive my vexation — They're at it again!
Oh imps that provoke to mad laughter,
Winged fiends that are fed from my brow,
Bite hard! let your neighbours come after,
And sting where you stung me just now!
Red brands on it smitten and bitten,
Round blotches I rub at in vain!
Oh Crux! whatsoever I've written, I've written in pain!
Ye chrysolite crystalline creatures,
Wan watchers the fairest afield,
Stars — and garters, are these my own features
In the merciless mirror revealed!
They are mine, even mine, and none other,
And my hands how they slacken and strain!
Oh my sister, my spouse, and my mother! I'm going insane!

© James Brunton Stephens