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.
 
“Magdalena”
By Henry Cuyler Bunner
 
SAT we ’neath the dark verandah,
  Years and years ago;
And I softly pressed a hand a
  Deal more white than snow.
And I cast aside my reina,        5
  As I gazed upon her face,
And I read her “Magdalena,”
  While she smoothed her Spanish lace—
Read her Waller’s “Magdalena”—
  She had Magdalena’s grace.        10
Read her of the Spanish duel,
Of the brother, courtly, cruel,
Who between the British wooer
  And the Seville lady came;
How her lover promptly slew her        15
  Brother, and then fled in shame—
How he dreamed, in long years after,
Of the river’s rippling laughter—
  Of the look he used to know
In the myrtle-curtained villa        20
Near the city of Sevilla
  Years and years ago.
 
Oh, how warmly was I reading,
  As I gazed upon her face!
And my voice took tones of pleading,        25
  For I sought to win her grace.
Surely thought I, in her veins
Runs some drop of foreign strains—
There is something half Castilian
In that lip that shames vermilion;        30
In that mass of raven tresses,
Tossing like a falcon’s jesses;
In that eye with trailing lashes,
And its witching upward flashes—
  Such, indeed, I know,        35
Shone where Guadalquivir plashes
  Years and years ago.
 
Looking in her face I read it—
  How the metre trips!—
And the god of lovers sped it        40
  On my happy lips—
All those words of mystic sweetness
Spoke I with an airy neatness,
As I never had before—
As I cannot speak them more—        45
Reja, plaza, and mantilla,
“No palabras” and Sevilla,
Caballero and sombrero,
And Duenna and Duero,
Spada, señor, sabe Dios—        50
Smooth as pipe of Melibœus—
Ah, how very well I read it,
  Looking in her lovely eyes!
When ’t was o’er, I looked for credit,
  As she softly moved to rise.
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
        55
Doting dream, ah, dream fallacious—
  Years and years ago!—
For she only said: “My gracious—
  What a lot of French you know!”
 
 
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