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Black Lamb


Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.


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Ode to Tobacco

November 1st, 2006

Thou who, when fears attack,
Bid’st them avaunt, and Black
Care,1 at the horseman’s back
Perching, unseatest;
Sweet when the morn is grey;
Sweet, when they’ve cleared away
Lunch; and at close of day
Possibly sweetest:

I have a liking old
For thee, though manifold
Stories, I know, are told,
Not to thy credit;
How one (or two at most)
Drops make a cat a ghost —
Useless, except to roast —
Doctors have said it:

How they who use fusees2
All grow by slow degrees
Brainless as chimpanzees,
Meagre as lizards;
Go mad, and beat their wives;
Plunge (after shocking lives)
Razors and carving knives
Into their gizzards.

Confound such knavish tricks!
Yet know I five or six
Still with their neighbours;
Jones — (who, I’m glad to say,
Asked leave of Mrs. J.) —
Daily absorbs a clay3
After his labours.

Cats may have had their goose
Cooked by tobacco-juice;4
Still why deny its use
Thoughtfully taken?
We’re not as tabbies are:
Smith, take a fresh cigar!
Jones, the tobacco-jar!
Here’s to thee, Bacon!5

—Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884), in Verses and Translations, 1862

1 An echo of Horace: “Black care sits behind the horseman.”
2 Matches that stay alight even in strong wind.
3 A clay pipe.
4 Cats are repelled by tobacco juice.
5 A tobacconist in Cambridge, England.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Smoking & Drinking Issue | Link to this Entry


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