Charles,—for it seems you wish to know,—
You wonder what could scare me so,
And why, in this long-locked bureau,
With trembling fingers,—
With tragic air, I now replace
This ancient web of yellow lace,
Among whose faded folds the trace
Of perfume lingers.
Friend of my youth, severe as true,
I guess the train your thoughts pursue;
But this my state is nowise due
I had forgotten it was there,
A scarf that Some-one used to wear.
Hinc illæ lacrimæ,—so spare
Your cynic question.
Some-one who is not girlish now,
And wed long since. We meet and bow;
I don’t suppose our broken vow
Affects us keenly;
Yet, trifling though my act appears,
Your Sternes would make it ground for tears;—
One can’t disturb the dust of years,
And smile serenely.
“My golden locks” are gray and chill,
For hers,—let them be sacred still;
But yet, I own, a boyish thrill
Went dancing through me,
Charles, when I held yon yellow lace;
For, from its dusty hiding-place,
Peeped out an arch, ingenuous face
That beckoned to me.
We shut our heart up nowadays,
Like some old music-box that plays
Unfashionable airs that raise
Alas,—a nothing starts the spring;
And lo, the sentimental thing
At once commences quavering
Its lover’s ditty.
Laugh, if you like. The boy in me,—
The boy that was,—revived to see
The fresh young smile that shone when she,
Of old, was tender.
Once more we trod the Golden Way,—
That mother you saw yesterday,
And I, whom none can well portray
As young, or slender.
She twirled the flimsy scarf about
Her pretty head, and stepping out,
Slipped arm in mine, with half a pout
Of childish pleasure.
Where we were bound no mortal knows,
For then you plunged in Ireland’s woes,
And brought me blankly back to prose
And Gladstone’s measure.
Well, well, the wisest bend to Fate.
My brown old books around me wait,
My pipe still holds, unconfiscate,
Its wonted station.
Pass me the wine. To Those that keep
The bachelor’s secluded sleep
Peaceful, inviolate, and deep,
I pour libation.