Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Experience
By John Boyle O’Reilly (1844–1890)
 
THE WORLD was made when a man was born,
He must taste for himself the forbidden springs;
He can never take warning from old-fashion’d things;
He must fight as a boy, he must drink as a youth,
He must kiss, he must love, he must swear to the truth        5
Of the friend of his soul; he must laugh to scorn
The hints of deceit in a woman’s eyes—
They are clear as the wells of Paradise.
 
And so he goes on till the world grows old,
Till his tongue has grown cautious, his heart has grown cold,        10
Till the smile leaves his mouth, till the ring leaves his laugh,
And he shirks the bright headache you ask him to quaff.
He grows formal with men, and with women polite,
And distrustful of both when they’re out of his sight.
Then he eats for his palate and drinks for his head,        15
And loves for his pleasure,—and ’tis time he was dead.
 
 
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