Tèma Con Variaziòni

[Why is it that Poetry has never yet been subjected to that process of Dilution which has proved so advantageous to her sister-art Music?  The Diluter gives us first a few notes of some well-known Air, then a dozen bars of his own, then a few more notes of the Air, and so on alternately: thus saving the listener, if not from all risk of recognising the melody at all, at least from the too-exciting transports which it might produce in a more concentrated form.  The process is termed “setting” by Composers, and any one, that has ever experienced the emotion of being unexpectedly set down in a heap of mortar, will recognise the truthfulness of this happy phrase.

For truly, just as the genuine Epicure lingers lovingly over a morsel of supreme Venison—whose every fibre seems to murmur “Excelsior!”—yet swallows, ere returning to the toothsome dainty, great mouthfuls of oatmeal-porridge and winkles: and just as the perfect Connoisseur in Claret permits himself but one delicate sip, and then tosses off a pint or more of boarding-school beer: so also—

I never loved a dear Gazelle—

   Nor anything that cost me much:

High prices profit those who sell,

   But why should I be fond of such?

To glad me with his soft black eye

   My son comes trotting home from school;

He’s had a fight but can’t tell why

   He always was a little fool!

But, when he came to know me well,

   He kicked me out, her testy Sire:

And when I stained my hair, that Belle

   Might note the change, and thus admire

And love me, it was sure to dye

   A muddy green or staring blue:

Whilst one might trace, with half an eye,

   The still triumphant carrot through.

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