She and I.

Now married half a score of years,1
With children growing tall,2
I muse on former hopes and fears,3
On long past smiles and sighs and tears,4
And bygone days recall.5
Yes ! twelve, twelve months have passed away,6
Since “ She and I” first met,7
But still the dress she wore that day,8
And almost all she chanced to say,9
I well remember yet.10
Of course I cannot tell if she11
Was conscious of her power ;12
I know that on that day for me13
Commenced a long captivity14
Which lasts until this hour.15
My love was faint and feeble then,16
And almost self-denied ;17
Yet still I’d jealous promptings when18
I chanced to witness other men19
Attentive at her side.20
And, oh ! what jealous pangs I bore21
As love increased in force ;22
I often turned and left her door,23
With firm resolve to go no more,—24
And went next day of course.25
What trifling matters then inclined26
My hopes to rise or fall ;27
It wasn’t difficult to find28
A plea for my sad state of mind29
In anything at all.30
While I was in this wretched state,31
Some friends, one summer day,32
Arranged a little rural fête ;33
I made a sham of self-debate,34
But went—I needn’t say.35
Although I own that in my eyes36
A pic-nic’s no great treat ;37
I don’t like gnats, or wasps, or flies,38
Or dust that spreads, or damps that rise,39
Or rain, or broiling heat.40
Well ! at this fête—tho’ what about41
I’ve not discovered yet42
Clara began to sulk and pout,43
And I, from sympathy, no doubt,44
Began to fume and fret.45
Our words were very sharp and curt,46
We spoke, and nothing more ;47
And then, I always will assert,48
That she began to laugh and flirt49
With people by the score.50
(I do sometimes assert it now51
It’s not a bit of use52
She positively won’t allow53
One single thing, but asks me how54
I can be such a goose.)55
What happen’d next I cannot say,56
Except from what I hear :57
I’m told that I was very gay,58
And chatter’d in the wildest way59
With everybody near.60
The sequence of events I own61
I’ve never understood,62
But when my mind regain’d its tone,63
I found that we were quite alone,64
And walking in a wood.65
Yes, there we were, with no one by,66
No sound the silence broke,67
Till Clara gave a little sigh,68
Which startled me so much that I69
Took heart of grace, and spoke.70
I sought a smile, I fear’d a frown,71
But scarce had I begun,72
When she, to veil her face, shook down73
Those clust’ring curls, in shadow brown,74
But golden in the sun.75
Ah, then came bliss, so long deferr’d,76
Which paid for everything !77
What joy one little whisper’d word,78
Se low it scarcely can be heard,79
Is large enough to bring !80
O, what a calm, delicious change81
From jealousy to rest !82
And then the trifles to arrange,83
So numerous, so sweet, and strange,84
Which give love half its zest.85
The slender ring, the stolen tress,86
(Inestimable prize !)87
The loving glance, the shy caress :88
If such as these be foolishness,89
I envy not the wise.90
No bitter memories remain91
Of all that stormy past ;92
May those who feel a kindred pain93
By fortune’s kindly aid attain94
A kindred joy at last !95