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Short poem

Frederick Locker Lampson (1821-1895)

Rotten Row

              1I hope I'm fond of much that's good,
              2    As well as much that's gay;
              3I'd like the country if I could;
              4    I love the Park in May:
              5And when I ride in Rotten Row,
              6I wonder why they call'd it so.

              7A lively scene on turf and road;
              8    The crowd is bravely drest:
              9The Ladies' Mile has overflow'd,
            10    The chairs are in request:
            11The nimble air, so soft, so clear,
            12Can hardly stir a ringlet here.

            13I'll halt beneath those pleasant trees, --
            14    And drop my bridle-rein,
            15And, quite alone, indulge at ease
            16    The philosophic vein:
            17I'll moralise on all I see --
            18Yes, it was all arranged for me!

            19Forsooth, and on a livelier spot
            20    The sunbeam never shines.
            21Fair ladies here can talk and trot
            22    With statesmen and divines:
            23Could I have chosen, I'd have been
            24A Duke, a Beauty, or a Dean.

            25What grooms! What gallant gentlemen!
            26    What well-appointed hacks!
            27What glory in their pace, and then
            28    What Beauty on their backs!
            29My Pegasus would never flag
            30If weighted as my Lady's nag.

            31But where is now the courtly troop
            32    That once rode laughing by?
            33I miss the curls of Cantelupe,
            34    The laugh of Lady Di:
            35They all could laugh from night to morn,
            36And Time has laugh'd them all to scorn.

            37I then could frolic in the van
            38    With dukes and dandy earls;
            39Then I was thought a nice young man
            40    By rather nice young girls!
            41I've half a mind to join Miss Browne,
            42And try one canter up and down.

            43Ah, no -- I'll linger here awhile,
            44    And dream of days of yore;
            45For me bright eyes have lost the smile,
            46    The sunny smile they wore: --
            47Perhaps they say, what I'll allow,
            48That I'm not quite so handsome now.


1] "[First printed in Macmillan's Magazine for November, 1867, and then included in the edition of 1870, p. 170.
The jetty, and latterly, grizzled curls (stanza 6) of George John Frederick, Viscount Cantelupe (1814-1850), the eldest son of the fifth Earl De La Warr, were long familiar to riders in the Row. He was a notable dandy and lady-killer. `Lord Cantelupe [is] the Apollo of the place [Rome]; four ladies [are] so in love that he cannot tear himself away' (Letters of Harriet Countess Granville, 1894, vol. ii. p. 348, under date of January, 1843). The late Lord Lamington had intended to give some account of this bygone notability in the sketches upon which he was engaged at his death, a portion of which were issued in 1890 with the title In the Days of the Dandies.]" (Austin Dobson's note, p. 179)

4] the Park: presumably Hyde Park, bounded in London by Bayswater Road, Park Lane, and Knightsbridge and Kensington Road.

5] Rotten Row: within Hyde Park, leading to Hyde Park Corner and just south of the Serpentine.

9] The Ladies' Mile: Serpentine Road, parallel to and north of Rotten Row and the Serpentine.

29] Pegasus: flying horse of classical legend.

34] Lady Di: Perhaps the Di of Locker Lampson's "Our Photographs."

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Frederick Locker Lampson, London Lyrics, with introduction and notes by Austin Dobson (London: Macmillan, 1904): 52-54. PR 4891 L2 A17 1904 Robarts Library.
First publication date: November 1867
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/18

Rhyme: ababcc

Other poems by Frederick Locker Lampson