Verse > Anthologies > Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. > Yale Book of American Verse
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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse.  1912.
 
Henry Cuyler Bunner. 1855–1896
 
242. Just a Love-Letter
 
"'MISS Blank—at Blank.' Jemima, let it go!"
Austin Dobson.
 

New York, July 20, 1883.
DEAR GIRL:
 
    The town goes on as though 
  It thought you still were in it; 
The gilded cage seems scarce to know         5
  That it has lost its linnet; 
The people come, the people pass; 
  The clock keeps on a-ticking: 
And through the basement plots of grass 
  Persistent weeds are pricking.  10
  
I thought 't would never come—the Spring— 
  Since you had left the City: 
But on the snow-drifts lingering 
  At last the skies took pity, 
Then Summer's yellow warmed the sun,  15
  Daily decreasing distance— 
I really don't know how 't was done 
  Without your kind assistance. 
  
Aunt Van, of course, still holds the fort: 
  I 've paid the call of duty;  20
She gave me one small glass of port— 
  'T was '34 and fruity. 
The furniture was draped in gloom 
  Of linen brown and wrinkled; 
I smelt in spots about the room  25
  The pungent camphor sprinkled. 
  
I sat upon the sofa, where 
  You sat and dropped your thimble— 
You know—you said you did n't care; 
  But I was nobly nimble.  30
On hands and knees I dropped, and tried 
  To—well, I tried to miss it: 
You slipped your hand down by your side— 
  You knew I meant to kiss it! 
  
Aunt Van, I fear we put to shame  35
  Propriety and precision: 
But, praised be Love, that kiss just came 
  Beyond your line of vision. 
Dear maiden aunt! the kiss, more sweet 
  Because 't is surreptitious,  40
You never stretched a hand to meet, 
  So dimpled, dear, delicious. 
  
I sought the Park last Saturday; 
  I found the Drive deserted; 
The water-trough beside the way  45
  Sad and superfluous spurted. 
I stood where Humboldt guards the gate, 
  Bronze, bumptious, stained and streaky— 
There sat a sparrow on his pate, 
  A sparrow chirp and cheeky.  50
  
Ten months ago! ten months ago!— 
  It seems a happy second, 
Against a life-time lone and slow, 
  By Love's wild time-piece reckoned— 
You smiled, by Aunt's protecting side,  55
  Where thick the drags were massing, 
On one young man who did n't ride, 
  But stood and watched you passing. 
  
I haunt Purssell's—to his amaze— 
  Not that I care to eat there;  60
But for the dear clandestine days 
  When we two had to meet there. 
Oh, blessed is that baker's bake, 
  Past cavil and past question; 
I ate a bun for your sweet sake,  65
  And Memory helped Digestion. 
  
The Norths are at their Newport ranch; 
  Van Brunt has gone to Venice; 
Loomis invites me to the Branch, 
  And lures me with lawn-tennis.  70
O bustling barracks by the sea! 
  O spiles, canals, and islands! 
Your varied charms are naught to me— 
  My heart is in the Highlands! 
  
My paper trembles in the breeze  75
  That all too faintly flutters 
Among the dusty city trees, 
  And through my half-closed shutters: 
A northern captive in the town, 
  Its native vigor deadened,  80
I hope that, as it wandered down, 
  Your dear pale cheek it reddened. 
  
I 'll write no more. A vis-à-vis 
  In halcyon vacation 
Will sure afford a much more free  85
  Mode of communication; 
I 'm tantalized and cribbed and checked 
  In making love by letter: 
I know a style more brief, direct— 
  And generally better!  90
 
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