By Michael Monahan, 1908
The only art I boast is this —
I too have laughed with all the crowd,
When the rich wonder of your wit
Challenged their plaudits loud;
And then, the jester’s role aside,
A finer spirit have I known,
A man with sorrow, too, acquaint,
A brother — yes, mine own.
A look into the merry eyes —
Lo! here are tears unshed
That do not ask a kindred soul
To leave their fountain head.
For you have more than Falstaff’s mirth,
Nor less than Hamlet’s teen;
“Wilt weep for Hecuba ” — and then
With laughter shake the scene.
One of God’s players playing out
With zest a weary part,
Teaching the sad world how to smile
With strokes of genial art;
Launching the scorn that blasts the knave,
The jest that flays the fool,
And by the right divine of wit
Giving a nation rule,
Laugh on, laugh on, dear Wit and Sage,
The roaring crowds above;
Yet keep for your own chosen few
The Poet of their love.