Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
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Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
 
An Old Man to an Old Madeira
By Silas Weir Mitchell
 
WHEN first you trembled at my kiss
  And blushed before and after,
Your life, a rose ’twixt May and June,
  Was stirred by breeze of laughter.
 
I asked no mortal maid to leave        5
  A kiss where there were plenty;
Enough the fragrance of your lips
  When I was five-and-twenty.
 
Fair mistress of a moment’s joy,
  We met, and then we parted:        10
You gave me all you had to give,
  Nor were you broken-hearted!
 
For other lips have known your kiss,
  Oh! fair inconstant lady,
While you have gone your shameless way        15
  ’Till life has passed its heyday.
 
And then we met in middle age,
  You matronly and older;
And somewhat gone your maiden blush,
  And I, well, rather colder.        20
 
And now that you are thin and pale,
  And I am slowly graying,
We meet, remindful of the past,
  When we two went a-Maying.
 
Alas! while you, an old coquette,        25
  Still flaunt your faded roses,
The arctic loneliness of age
  Around my pathway closes.
 
Dear aged wanton of the feast,
  Egeria of gay dinners,        30
I leave your unforgotten charm
  To other younger sinners.
 
Or was it some love-wildered beau
  Of old colonial days,
With clouded cane and broidered coat,        35
  And very artful ways?
 
And did he whisper through her curls
  Some wicked, pleasant vow,
And swear no courtly dame had words
  As sweet as “thee” and “thou”?        40
 
Or did he praise her dimpled chin
  In eager song or sonnet,
And find a merry way to cheat
  Her kiss-defying bonnet?
 
And sang he then in verses gay,        45
  Amid this forest shady,
The dainty flower at her feet
  Was like his Quaker lady?
 
And did she pine in English fogs,
  Or was his love enough?        50
And did she learn to sport the fan,
  And use the patch and puff?
 
Alas! Perhaps she played quadrille,
  And, naughty grown and older,
Was pleased to show a dainty neck,        55
  Above a dainty shoulder.
 
But sometimes in the spring, I think,
  She saw, as in a dream,
The meeting-house, the home sedate,
  The Schuylkill’s quiet stream;        60
 
And sometimes in the minuet’s pause
  Her heart went wide afield,
To where, amid the woods of May,
  A blush its love revealed.
 
’Till far away from court and king,        65
  And powder and brocade,
The Quaker ladies at her feet
  Their quaint obeisance made.
 
 
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