On a Sprig of Heath.

I take it up with quickened breath,1
And tears that rise unbidden2
’Tis but a sprig of faded heath,3
Among old letters hidden.4
But fresh and clear comes back the past,5
With one day still lamented :6
Oh ! Kate, that foolish word of haste,7
So bitterly repented !8
Shake off the fit !  Read you wise books9
On woman’s fond beguiling :10
See how she ruins with her looks,11
And saddens with her smiling ;12
How clownish heart and crownèd head13
Have rued her promise broken !14
Oh ! Katie—were this memory dead !15
Or else that word unspoken !16
See, the world’s lovers file their way17
Adown the page historic ;18
Rehearse their stories, grave and gay,19
In Attic or in Doric ;20
Proclaim the lessons of their fate,21
And with their cautions warn me :22
Ah ! if it were not yet too late23
Kate, would you only scorn me ?24
Hearken the maxims of the wise :25
No dangers half so fearful26
As lurk beneath a woman’s eyes,27
In laughing mood or tearful.28
And think how useful ’tis to know29
That half the world God gave us30
Was only made in mocking show,31
To ruin and enslave us !32
We’ll scoff and scorn the while lads sing33
Of love among the lilies.34
Woman is but an idle thing35
Queen Bess to Amaryllis.36
We’ll plant in every manly breast37
All woman’s tender graces,38
And try to do without the rest39
Kind hearts and loving faces.40
Why, what have I to do with love,41
Whose spring of love is ended ?42
Could ever five and thirty move43
Where twenty-five offended ?44
Can I renew what once has been,45
With hope and purse both scanty ?46
Speak—Love’s own queen at bright sixteen,47
My queen at six and twenty !48