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Short poem

Amy Levy (1861-1889)

Ballade of an Omnibus

      "To see my love suffices me."
                         --Ballades in Blue China.

              1SOME men to carriages aspire;
              2On some the costly hansoms wait;
              3Some seek a fly, on job or hire;
              4Some mount the trotting steed, elate.
              5I envy not the rich and great,
              6A wandering minstrel, poor and free,
              7I am contented with my fate --
              8An omnibus suffices me.

              9In winter days of rain and mire
            10I find within a corner strait;
            11The 'busmen know me and my lyre
            12From Brompton to the Bull-and-Gate.
            13When summer comes, I mount in state
            14The topmost summit, whence I see
            15Crœsus look up, compassionate --
            16An omnibus suffices me.

            17I mark, untroubled by desire,
            18Lucullus' phaeton and its freight.
            19The scene whereof I cannot tire,
            20The human tale of love and hate,
            21The city pageant, early and late
            22Unfolds itself, rolls by, to be
            23A pleasure deep and delicate.
            24An omnibus suffices me.

            25Princess, your splendour you require,
            26I, my simplicity; agree
            27Neither to rate lower nor higher.
            28An omnibus suffices me.


2] hansoms: small two-wheeled covered carriage.

12] Brompton: street running from South Kensington station to Hyde Park and Knightsbridge station today. The location of the Bull-and-Gate, likely a pub, is not known.

15] Crœsus: wealthy king of Lydia (560-546 BC).

18] Lucullus' phaeton: Lucius Licinius Lucullus (born ca. 110 BC), consul of Rome, leader of war against Mithridates, and very wealthy, could have afforded a phaeton, a light four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage.

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: Amy Levy, A London Plane-Tree and other Verse (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1889), pp. 21-22. PR 4886 L25L6 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1889
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/23

Rhyme: ababbcbc, last stanza abab

Other poems by Amy Levy