Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Yvonne
By Walter Jack Duncan (1881–1941)
 
(1918)

YVONNE it was I met in Angers,
Yvonne Moreau—if that’s her name;
But let no sceptical éstranger
Doubt, but rather sing her fame.
For she was rare! A maiden never        5
Breathed her graces did excel!
Mistake me not; how brief soever
Our love, at least I loved her well.
 
Seated at a window, dreaming
O’er my morning omelette,        10
Saw I her—tho’ without seeming—
Struggling with her bicyclette.
Saw I first a knee, a stocking;
Then those jolie jambes of hers!
Ah, Messieurs! it’s no use talking:        15
As I live, I have seen worse.
 
One so young, thought I, so pretty,
Little knows, on her machine,
Half the charms—the more’s the pity!—
She reveals at seventeen.        20
Still she lingered, still she hovered,
Shyly blushing in distress,
That she could not keep ’em covered,
Could not hide ’em ’neath her dress.
 
Sweet the sight was, sweet her trouble,        25
As she tried, poor child! in vain,
To conceal, by bending double,
What each moment showed more plain.
Strange! thought I, her bycyclette
Has such a fancy for this spot.        30
Can she think—But I forget:—
Garçon! warm this chocolate!
 
Would she—? might she—? mused I, oddly,
As once more she pedaled by,
(For the strain was grown un-godly;        35
Yet no thought of harm had I.)
Can it be—? I saw her turning—
Turning to come back again!
Then it was I fell a-yearning….
Oh the villany of men!        40
 
Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça? cried I
To the Maitre d’hotel.
“Une Steno-Dactylographie.”
“A Steno- what? La Ma’moiselle.”
Bien! quoth I, she’s apropos.        45
You say they call her Miss Yvonne?
“Mais oui—!” Pardon! I’ll have to go,
For I have need of such an one.
 
And was she coy? And did she fear
A stranger’s voice? his first advances?        50
Yvonne! Yvonne!! “O-ui, M’sieur.”
How lightly off her wheel she dances!
“Que voulez-vous?” she begs so sweet,
I ’gin to doubt, and then to worry.
“A—just what is the word for it?        55
Have you, perchance, a dictionary?”
 
Ah la belle France! so old and famous
For countless joys that cheer, and bless;
None so much are like to shame us
As these angels in distress.        60
None so sweet, with grace and charms full,
Labor in the fields of love,
Make such dear, delightsome arms-full,
Soft, delicious, fond enough!
 
Your Pa? I ask; and where is he, dear?        65
“Mon pere? Son Colonel’s cheval grooms.”
Your Ma? “En Toulouse.” What does she there?
“Ma mere sells cabbages, and brooms.”
And you so young, so all alone?
But you will die of poverty!        70
“Mais je travaille!” Indeed, Yvonne?
“A Steno-Dactylographie.”
 
And so she did, beyond compare!
How faithfully she filled her task!
Accounts were sadly in arrear;        75
In truth, it was too much to ask.
Still would she smile, and sing one song:
“Je sais que vous-etes jolie.”
She charmed me with it all day long:
“Je sais que c’est mon folie.”        80
 
Four days and nights she kept it going.
“Tis time,” said I, “I must be gone.”
And would she tell me what was owing?
Ah no, you little know Yvonne!
“Vous-etes un artist, Jacques, compleet!”        85
An artist? I? What do you mean?—
And you’re another, chère petite;
The first I’ve met at seventeen!
 
No longer now I go, regretting,
That all the girls, where’er I stray,        90
Have strangely taken to ’cycletting,
And practice daily in Angers.
No more the sight fills me with wonder,
(I only hope the fashion grows).
Somehow it makes the heart grow fonder.        95
Pourquoi? Messieurs! Who knows—who knows?
 
 
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