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- The Home Book of Verse, Volume 2 - 70/175 -


Do her ships go sailing on every wind that blows? She is richer far than that, as everybody knows.

Has she scores of lovers, heaps of bleeding beaux? That question's quite superfluous, as everybody knows.

I could tell you something, if I only chose! - But what's the use of telling what everybody knows?

James Thomas Fields [1816-1881]

TOUJOURS AMOUR

Prithee tell me, Dimple-Chin, At what age does Love begin? Your blue eyes have scarcely seen Summers three, my fairy queen, But a miracle of sweets, Soft approaches, sly retreats, Show the little archer there, Hidden in your pretty hair; When didst learn a heart to win? Prithee tell me, Dimple-Chin!

"Oh!" the rosy lips reply, "I can't tell you if I try. 'Tis so long I can't remember: Ask some younger lass than I!"

Tell, O tell me, Grizzled-Face, Do your heart and head keep pace? When does hoary Love expire, When do frosts put out the fire? Can its embers burn below All that chill December snow? Care you still soft hands to press, Bonny heads to smooth and bless? When does Love give up the chase? Tell, O tell me, Grizzled-Face!

"Ah!" the wise old lips reply, "Youth may pass and strength may die; But of Love I can't foretoken: Ask some older sage than I!"

Edmund Clarence Stedman [1833-1908]

THE DOORSTEP

The conference-meeting through at last, We boys around the vestry waited To see the girls come tripping past, Like snow-birds willing to be mated.

Not braver he that leaps the wall By level musket-flashes bitten, Than I, that stepped before them all Who longed to see me get the mitten.

But no! she blushed and took my arm: We let the old folks have the highway, And started toward the Maple Farm Along a kind of lovers' by-way.

I can't remember what we said, - 'Twas nothing worth a song or story; Yet that rude path by which we sped Seemed all transformed and in a glory.

The snow was crisp beneath our feet, The moon was full, the fields were gleaming; By hood and tippet sheltered sweet, Her face with youth and health was beaming.

The little hand outside her muff (O sculptor! if you could but mold it) So lightly touched my jacket-cuff, To keep it warm I had to hold it.

To have her with me there alone, - 'Twas love and fear and triumph blended; At last we reached the foot-worn stone Where that delicious journey ended.

The old folks, too, were almost home: Her dimpled hand the latches fingered, We heard the voices nearer come, Yet on the doorstep still we lingered.

She shook her ringlets from her hood, And with a "Thank you, Ned!" dissembled; But yet I knew she understood With what a daring wish I trembled.

A cloud passed kindly overhead, The moon was slyly peeping through it, Yet hid its face, as if it said - "Come, now or never! do it! do it!"

My lips till then had only known The kiss of mother and of sister, - But somehow, full upon her own Sweet, rosy, darling mouth, - I kissed her!

Perhaps 'twas boyish love: yet still, O listless woman! weary lover! To feel once more that fresh, wild thrill I'd give - but who can live youth over?

Edmund Clarence Stedman [1833-1908]

THE WHITE FLAG

I sent my love two roses, - one As white as driven snow, And one a blushing royal red, A flaming Jacqueminot.

I meant to touch and test my fate; That night I should divine, The moment I should see my love, If her true heart were mine.

For if she holds me dear, I said, She'll wear my blushing rose; If not, she'll wear my cold Lamarque, As white as winter's snows.

My heart sank when I met her: sure I had been overbold, For on her breast my pale rose lay In virgin whiteness cold.

Yet with low words she greeted me, With smiles divinely tender; Upon her cheek the red rose dawned, - The white rose meant surrender.

John Hay [1838-1905]

A SONG OF THE FOUR SEASONS

When Spring comes laughing By vale and hill, By wind-flower walking And daffodil, - Sing stars of morning, Sing morning skies, Sing blue of speedwell, - And my Love's eyes.

When comes the Summer, Full-leaved and strong, And gay birds gossip The orchard long, - Sing hid, sweet honey That no bee sips;

Sing red, red roses, - And my Love's lips.

When Autumn scatters The leaves again, And piled sheaves bury The broad-wheeled wain, - Sing flutes of harvest Where men rejoice; Sing rounds of reapers, - And my Love's voice.

But when comes Winter With hail and storm, And red fire roaring And ingle warm, - Sing first sad going Of friends that part; Then sing glad meeting, - And my Love's heart.

Austin Dobson [1840-1921]

THE LOVE-KNOT

Tying her bonnet under her chin, She tied her raven ringlets in; But not alone in the silken snare Did she catch her lovely floating hair, For, tying her bonnet under her chin, She tied a young man's heart within.

They were strolling together up the hill, Where the wind came blowing merry and chill; And it blew the curls, a frolicsome race, All over the happy peach-colored face.


The Home Book of Verse, Volume 2 - 70/175

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