ode on bank holiday
this day of roundabouts and swings, struck weights, shied cocoa-nuts, tossed rings, switchbacks, aunt sallies, and all such small high jinks--you call it ferial? a holiday? but paper noses sniffed the artificial roses of round venetian cheeks through half each carnival year, and masks might laugh at things the naked face for shame would blush at--laugh and think no blame. a holiday? but galba showed elephants on an airy road; jumbo trod the tightrope then, and in the circus armèd men stabbed home for sport and died to break those dull imperatives that make a prison of every working day, where all must drudge and all obey. sing holiday! you do not know how to be free. the russian snow flowered in bright blood whose roses spread petals of fading, fading red that died into the snow again, into the virgin snow; and men from all ancient bonds were freed. old law, old custom, and old creed, old right and wrong there bled to death; the frozen air received their breath, a little smoke that died away; and round about them where they lay the snow bloomed roses. blood was there a red, gay flower and only fair. sing holiday! beneath the tree of innocence and liberty, paper nose and red cockade dance within the magic shade that makes them druken, merry, and strong to laugh and sing their ferial song: "free, free...!" but Echo answers faintly to the laughing dancers, "free"--and faintly laughs, and still, within the hollows of the hill, faintlier laughs, and whispers, "free," fadingly, diminishingly: "free," and laughter faints away... sing holiday! sing holiday!