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Wishmakers’ Town
by [?]

A LIMITED edition of this little volume of verse, which seems to me in many respects unique, was issued in 1885, and has long been out of print. The reissue of the book is in response to the desire off certain readers who have not forgotten the charm which William Young’s poem exercised upon them years ago, and, finding the charm still potent, would have others share it.

The scheme of the poem, for it is a poem and not simply a series of unrelated lyrics, is ingenious and original, and unfolds itself in measures at once strong and delicate. The mood of the poet and the method of the playwright are obvious throughout. Wishmakers’ Town–a little town situated in the no-man’s-land of “The Tempest” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”–is shown to us as it awakens, touched by the dawn. The clangor of bells far and near calls the townfolk to their various avocations, the toiler to his toil, the idler to his idleness, the miser to his gold. In swift and picturesque sequence the personages of the Masque pass before us. Merchants, hucksters, players, lovers, gossips, soldiers, vagabonds, and princes crowd the scene, and have in turn their word of poignant speech. We mingle with the throng in the streets; we hear the whir of looms and the din of foundries, the blare of trumpets, the whisper of lovers, the scandals of the market-place, and, in brief, are let into all the secrets of the busy microcosm. A contracted stage, indeed, yet large enough for the play of many passions, as the narrowest hearthstone may be. With the sounding of the curfew, the town is hushed to sleep again, and the curtain falls on this mimic drama of life.

The charm of it all is not easily to be defined. Perhaps if one could name it, the spell were broken. Above the changing rhythms hangs an atmosphere too evasive for measurement–an atmosphere that stipulates an imaginative mood on the part of the reader. The quality which pleases in certain of the lyrical episodes is less intangible. One readily explains one’s liking for so gracious a lyric as The Flower-Seller, to select an example at random. Next to the pleasure that lies in the writing of such exquisite verse is the pleasure of quoting it. I copy the stanzas partly for my own gratification, and partly to win the reader to “Wishmakers’ Town,” not knowing better how to do it.

Myrtle, and eglantine,
For the old love and the new!
And the columbine,
With its cap and bells, for folly!
And the daffodil, for the hopes of youth! and the rue,
For melancholy!
But of all the blossoms that blow,
Fair gallants all, I charge you to win, if ye may,
This gentle guest,
Who dreams apart, in her wimple of purple and gray,
Like the blessed Virgin, with meek head bending low
Upon her breast.
For the orange flower
Ye may buy as ye will: but the violet of the wood
Is the love of maidenhood;
And he that hath worn it but once, though but for an hour,
He shall never again, though he wander by many a stream,
No, never again shall he meet with a dower that shall seem
So sweet and pure; and forever, in after years,
At the thought of its bloom, or the fragrance of its breath,
The past shall arise,
And his eyes shall be dim with tears,
And his soul shall be far in the gardens of Paradise
Though he stand in the Shambles of death.

In a different tone, but displaying the same sureness of execution, is the cry of the lowly folk, the wretched pawns in the great game of life: