Lapsus Calami (Aug 1891)/Parker's Piece, May 19, 1891

Parker's Piece, May 19, 1891  (1891) 

Included as the first piece in the "Rescued from the Waste Paper Basket" section of the third edition of Lapsus Calami, "Parker's Piece, May 19, 1891" was originally published in The Cambridge Review, 21 May 1891. It was inspired by a tennis match played between George Lambert and James Harradine.

To see good Tennis! what diviner joy
Can fill our leisure, or our minds employ?
Not Sylvia's self is more supremely fair,
Than balls that hurtle through the conscious air.
Not Stella's form instinct with truer grace
Than Lambert's racket poised to win the chase.
Not Chloe's harp more native to the ear,
Than the tense strings which smite the flying sphere.
When Lambert boasts the superhuman force,
Or splits the echoing grille without remorse:
When Harradine, as graceful as of yore,
Wins better than a yard, upon the floor;
When Alfred's ringing cheer proclaims success,
Or Saunders volleys in resistlessness;
When Heathcote's service makes the dedans ring
With just applause, and own its honoured king;
When Pettitt's prowess all our zeal awoke
Till high Olympus shuddered at the stroke;
Or, when, receiving thirty and the floor,
The novice serves a dozen faults or more;
Or some plump don, perspiring and profane,
Assails the roof and breaks the exalted pane;
When vantage, five games all, the door is called,
And Europe pauses, breathless and appalled,
Till lo! the ball by cunning hand caressed
Finds in the winning gallery a nest;
These are the moments, this the bliss supreme,
Which makes the artist's joy, the poet's dream.
Let cricketers await the tardy sun,
Break one another's shins and call it fun;
Let Scotia's golfers through the affrighted land
With crooked knee and glaring eye-ball stand;
Let football rowdies show their straining thews,
And tell their triumphs to a mud-stained Muse;
Let india-rubber pellets dance on grass
Where female arts the ruder sex surpass;
Let other people play at other things;
The king of games is still the game of kings.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.