Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
Ætate XIX
 
Herman Charles Merivale (b. 1839)
 
 
NINETEEN! of years a pleasant number;
    And it were well
If on his post old Time would slumber
    For Isabel:
 
If he would leave her, fair and girlish,        5
    Untouch’d of him
Forgetting once his fashions churlish,
    Just for a whim!
 
But no, not he; ashore, aboard ship,
    Sleep we, or wake,        10
He lays aside his right of lordship
    For no man’s sake;
 
But all untiring girds his loins up
    For great and small;
And, as a miser sums his coins up,        15
    Still counts us all.
 
As jealous as a nine-days’ lover,
    He will not spare,
’Spite of the wealth his presses cover,
    One silver hair;        20
 
But writes his wrinkles far and near in
    Life’s every page,
With ink invisible, made clear in
    The fire of age.
 
Child! while the treacherous flame yet shines not        25
    On thy smooth brow,
Where even Envy’s eye divines not
    That writing now,
 
In this brief homily I read you
    There should be found        30
Some wholesome moral, that might lead you
    To look around,
 
And think how swift, as sunlight passes
    Into the shade,
The pretty picture in your glass is        35
    Foredoom’d to fade.
 
But, ’faith, the birthday genius quarrels
    With moral rhyme,
And I was never good at morals
    At any time;        40
 
While with ill-omens to alarm you
    ’T were vain to try.—
To show how little mine should harm you,
    Your mother’s by!
 
And what can Time hurt me, I pray, with,        45
    If he insures
Such friends to laugh regrets away with
    As you—and yours?
 

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