Some great, grand song of Life to sing
Now grant us, Muse divine,
On whose wide-roaming rainbow wing
Pale stars of Music shine!
Some flight beyond the common themes
Of common modern lays,
Some echo of those charméd dreams
Bards dreamt in buried days!
Ah, where’s the light that flashed along
Thy steel, Sir Cavalier?
Ah, where’s the wild war-chorus strong,
Thou whiskered halberdier?
All flown! They sell the name ye won
To buy a year of peace,
That ten fat men, from sun to sun,
May watch their hoards increase.
Bold bravoes in your cobwebbed-frames,
Brave knights and courtiers gay,
Behold the “Golden Peace” that tames
Our souls this later day!
Gay gallants of that ancient time,
I’d sing ye if I could;
But gallant deeds fit ill to rhyme
In this dull age of wood.
And, — but the madrigal that long
Did speak the singer’s fate,
The sonnet and the pastoral song
Are somewhat out of date, —
Fayre lady in thine ivied keep —
The moonlight streaming o’er, —
Fain would I ’cross the greensward creep
To be thy troubadour.
E. J. Brady, The Earthen Floor, Grafton (N.S.W.): Grip Newspaper Co., 1902
fain = happily or gladly; ready or willing; obliged or compelled
gay = happy, joyous, carefree (may also mean well-decorated, bright, attractive) (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; may also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)
greensward = an area of land which is covered with green grass; green turf
ivied = covered with ivy (a climbing plant)
lay = song, tune; ballad (may also refer to ballads or narrative poems, as sung by medieval minstrels or bards)
madrigal = a lyrical poem which was set to music (or which was suitable to set to music), or a non-religious part song without instrumental accompaniment (madrigals were popular in the 16th and 17th centuries); or any part song
Muse = a source of artistic inspiration; a person, especially a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for an artist (derived from the Muses of Greek and Roman mythology, who were said to provide inspiration for artists and writers)
o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
sic transit = (Latin) “thus passes”, as used in the Latin phrase “sic transit gloria mundi” (“thus passes the glory of the world”)
Old spelling in the original text:
Vernacular spelling in the original text: