Ernest De Lancey Pierson.

The merry muse; society verse by American writers online

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Some one must row the canoe.
Ah, lovely empress of night !
Maidens must worship thee



Pooh !

I hardly think this is right,
Sweet Miss Thalia ', do you ?


But, if it give her delight ?
Lovers are sadly too few.


Yet, if she loved a poor wight,
One, I should fancy, would do,


Yes ; but is not the bold knight
Sometimes a laggard to woo ?


Think you she loves him a mite,
Sweet Miss Thalia; do you?


Pray, sir ! your arms are too tight .'

Knights kissed their lady-loves true.

Then I think mayhap you might

Sweet Miss Thalia, do you ?



'*""? WAS stinging, blustering, winter weather;

* How well I recollect the night !
When Kate and I played chess together.

Her beauty in the hearth-fire's light
Seemed more Madonna-like and rosy ;
The hours were swift, the room was cozy,

The windows frosted silvery white.

Even now I see that grave face resting
Upon the hand, so white and small ;

I see that mystic grace, suggesting
A painter's dream ; I oft recall

Her glance, now anxious, gay, or tender ;

The girlish form, complete yet slender,
In silhouette against the wall.

It was not strange that I was mated,
For 'twas my fondly cherished aim.

I longed to speak, but I was fated ;
The rightful opening never came.

I pawned my heart for her sweet favor,

With every look some vantage gave her,
An so, alas ! I lost the game.


Since then, by fortune, love, forsaken,
Through checkered years I've passed and seen

My castles fall, my pawns all taken,

My spotless knights prove traitors mean ;

And worn with many a check, I wander

Like the poor vanquished king, and ponder
With sadness on my long-lost queen.



H, little glove, do I but dream I hold thee,
So warm, so sweet, and tawny as her hair ?
Nay ! from her hand I dared unfold thee,
As we went down the stair.

She said no word ; she did not praise nor blame me ;

She is so proud, so proud and cold and fair !
Ah ! dear my love, thy silence did not shame me

As we went down the stair.

Thy dark eyes flashed ; thy regal robes arrayed thee
In queenly grace, and pride beyond compare ;

But on thy cheek a sudden red betrayed thee,
As we went down the stair.

O lady mine, some near night will I prove thee !

By this soft glove I know that I may dare
Take thy white hand and whisper, "Sweet, I love thee,"

As we go down the stair.



\/"OUR soul, that for years I have counted

An open book, read to the end,
Is lettered all strange, since a lover
Looks out from the eyes of a friend.

The white pages now are turned rosy,
The chapters are numbered anew,

The old plot is lost, and the hero

Who, up to last night, was just you

Just dear old friend Jack, and no other,

To-night is a stranger, I vow ;
And though I am fain to be gracious,

The truth is, I scarcely know how.

Where now is your celibate gospel ?

What now of Love's follies and faults ?
Refuted last night when your lips, sir,

Chasseed o'er my cheek in the waltz.

Life-faith we swore, friendly fraternal
To keep it ah me ! half a year


And I, Chloris now to your Strephon,
Accept my new role with a tear,

A tear for the dear old days ended,
A tear for the friend lost for aye,

For careless old comradeship fleeing
Forever before Love to-day.

Dear, read me aright ! Though words falter,
And lips prove but dumb, your heart hears ;

The Jack of to-day I love truly,
Yet oh for the Jack of old years !




A CULTURED mind ! Before I speak
** The words, sweet maid, to tinge thy cheek
With blushes of the nodding rose
That on thy breast in beauty blows,
I prithee satisfy my freak.

Canst thou read Latin and eke Greek?
Dost thou for knowledge pine and peek ?
Hast thou, in short, as I suppose,

A cultured mind ?

Some men require a maiden meek
Enough to eat at need the leek ;

Some lovers crave a classic nose,

A liquid eye, or faultless pose;
I none of these. I only seek

A cultured mind.




A PEDIGREE! Ah, lovely jade !

Whose tresses mock the raven's shade,
Before I free this aching breast
I want to set my mind at rest ;

'Tis best to call a spade a spade.

What was thy father ere he made
His fortune ? Was he smeared with trade,
Or does he boast an ancient crest
A pedigree ?

Brains and bright eyes are over-weighed ;
For wits grow dull and beauties fade ;

And riches, though a welcome guest,

Oft jar the matrimonial nest.
I kiss her lips who holds displayed
A pedigree.



A PRETTY face ! O maid divine,
Whose vowels flow as soft as wine,
Before I say upon the rack
The words I never can take back,
A moment meet my glance with thine.

Say, art thou fair ? Is the incline
Of that sweet nose an aquiline ?
Hast thou, despite unkind attack,
A pretty face ?

Some sigh for wisdom. Three, not nine,
The graces were. I won't repine
For want of pedigree, or lack
Of gold to banish Care the black,
If I can call forever mine

A pretty face.



A POT of gold ! O mistress fair,
With eyes of brown that pass compare,
Ere I on bended knee express
The love which you already guess,
I fain would ask a small affair.

Hast thou, my dear, an ample share
Of this world's goods ? Will thy proud pure
Disgorge, to gild our blessedness,
A pot of gold ?

Some swains for mental graces care ;
Some fall a prey to golden hair ;

I am not blind, I will confess,

To intellect or comeliness ;
Still let these go beside, ma chere t
A pot of gold.



V/"OU were a haughty beauty, Polly,

(That was in the play,)
I was the lover melancholy,

(That was in the play.)
And when your fan and you receded,
And all my passion lay unheeded,
If still with tenderer words I pleaded,

That was in the play !

I met my rival at the gateway,

(That was in the play,)
And so we fought a duel straightway,

(That was in the play. )
But when Jack hurt my arm unduly,
And you rushed over, softened newly,
And kissed me, Polly ! truly, truly,

Was that in the play ?



\A7HEN we began this never-ended,

Kind companionship,
Childish greetings lit the splendid

Laughter at the lip ;
You were ten and I eleven ;

Henceforth, as we knew,
Was all mischief under heaven

Set down to Lo and Lu.

Long we fought and cooed together,

Held an equal reign,
Snowballs could we fire and gather,

Twine a clover chain ;
Sing in G an A flat chorus

' Mid the tuneful crew
No harmonious angels o'er us

Taught us, Lo or Lu.

Pleasant studious times have seen us

Arm in arm of yore,
Learned books, well thumbed between us,

Spread along the floor ;


7 6 LO AND LU.

Perched in pine tops, sunk in barley,
Rogues where rogues were few,

Right or wrong in deed or parley,
Comrades, Lo and Lu.

Which could leap where banks were wider,

Mock the cat-bird's call?
Which preside and pop the cider

At a festival ?
Who became the finer stoic,

Stabbing trouble through, -
Thrilled to hear of things heroic

Oftener, Lo or Lu ?

Earliest, blithest! then and ever

Mirror of my heart !
Grow we old and wise and clever

Now, so far apart ;
Still as tender as a mother's

Floats our prayer for two;
Neither yet can spare the other's

" God bless Lo and Lu ! "



I N the dazzling blue and white of the tiles

* As a mirror my dear love's face I spy ;

From the mantel tree she looks down and smiles,

While my heart goes up in an answering sigh.

It's I am so lowly and she is so high,
My bashful hope how could I confess,

But an English pug, and yet dare to cry
For the love of a china shepherdess ?

She leans on the crook oh, her winning wiles !

From my mistress' lap, where I idly lie,
I watch, and I wish there were miles and miles

(While my heart goes up in an answering sigh)

'Tvvixt her and that boy with the butterfly.
So pretty is he in his peasant dress,

And so plain beside him, how should I try
For the love of a china shepherdess ?


There's an Angora cat my bark reviles,

Did I love, mayhap she would make reply;

But no ! to the mantel tree's dim defiles

(While my heart goes up in an answering sigh)
All possible bliss must pass me by,

And no one shall ever the secret guess :
An unlucky dog is in misery

For love of a china shepherdess.


Ah, many a wight of more wit than I

Is dying to live and living to die

Would give up his heart and his soul no less

For love of a china shepherdess !



EAR heart of mine, true heart of mine,
'Tis time o' year for valentine ;
Grim Winter cloth his silence break
Now, love to make, for April's sake ;
Wild flow'rs entreat her face to greet
When she shall come and make all sweet
Before the light touch of her feet.

Dear heart of mine, own heart of mine,

Ah, well may Winter loud repine !

She turns before her suitor bold :

He is so old, he is so cold

No ! dear is May, and near is May,

He cannot, now, be far away,

And so she says old Winter, Nay.

Dear heart of mine, sweet heart of mine,
Shall love meet love and make no sign ?
The weeks they come, the weeks they go ;
Nor Winter's snow nor Summer's glow
Can chill the land, can thrill the land,
As look of eye and touch of hand
May those true souls who understand!



MA says I am lucky as I can be
To marry Professor Gaunt,
And Pa says he wonders what he can see

In a girl like me to want;
And at first no one was prouder than I
(His fame is world- wide, you know),
But I must tell some one or I shall die -
Nell, it is awfully slow.

I thought he'd come wooing like other men,

In spite of being so wise,
And say he loved me again and again,

And praise my hair and my eyes.
But he talks of things I can't understand,

Of fossils and snakes and shells ;
He never dreams of holding my hand,

Or bringing me caramels.

I want a lover to talk of love,

Smooth my hair and look at me ;
I want him to call me " Darling " and " Dove,'

Anil pull me clown on his knee ;
I want him to write me foolish rhymes,

To give me some little surprise :
Well, I can't he<p it, I wish sometimes

He wasn't so awfully wise!



/ "T~*HE time is come to speak, I think;

* For on the square I met
My beauteous widow, fresh and pink,
Her black gown touched at every brink
With tender violet.

And at her throat the white crpe lisse

Spoke in a fluffy bow
Of woe that should perhaps ne'er cease,
(Peace to thy shade, Golightly, peace !)

Yet mitigated woe.

In her soft eye, that used to scan
The ground, nor seem to see,
The hazel legend sweetly ran,
" I could not wholly hate a man
For quite adoring me."

And when she drew her 'kerchief fine,

A hint of heliotrope
Its snow, edged with an inky line,
Exhaled from which scent you divine

Through old regrets new hope.

And then her step so soft and slow,
She scarcely seemed to lift


From off the sward her widowed toe,
One year one little year ago !
So soft yet, yet so swift ;

Then, too, her blush, her side glance coy,

Tell me in easy Greek,
(I wonder could her little boy
Prove source of serious annoy ?)

The time is come to speak.



\ A 7HEKE was I last week ? At the Skinners' ;

^ It's really a nice place to dine :
The old man gives capital dinners,

And is rather a good judge of wine.
The daughters are stylish and pretty

Nice girls ! eh ? Don't know them, you say ?
Indeed ! That is really a pity ;

I'll take you there with me some day.

You'll be pleased with the eldest Miss Carrie ;

But Maude's rather more in my style.
By George ! if a fellow could marry,

There's a girl who would make it worth while!
But it costs such a lot when you're doubled ;

You must live in some style, there's the rub.
Now, a single man isn't so troubled,

It's always good form at the club.

As to Maude, she'd say yes in a minute,
If I asked for her hand, I dare say :

Soft, white hand, if a fortune were in it,
I'd ask her to have me to-day.


Father rich ? Well, you know there's no knowing
How a man will cut up till he's dead.

Have I looked at his tax-list? I'm going
To do it ; old boy, that's well said !

But even rich fathers aren't willing

Always to come down with the pelf;
They'll say they began with a shilling,

And think you can do it yourself.
What's that paper, just there ? The Ho?ne Journal?

What's the news in society, eh ?
ENGAGED ! Now, by all the infernal

It can't be ; pass it over this way.

Hm ! " Reception, Club breakfast, Grand dinner.

" We learn that the charming Miss Maude,
Youngest daughter of Thomas O. Skinner,

Is engaged to George Jones," He's a fraud !
" Of the firm of Jones, Skinner & Baker.

The marriage will take place in May."
Hang the girl for a flirt, the deuce take her!

Well, what are you laughing at, eh ?



O glad you are here for the wedding!

I want you to see my trousseau.
Pa gave me carte blanche for the outfit,

'Tis all he need give me, you know.
'Tisn't every girl marries three millions,

And so he's as pleased as can be.
Here's the dress dear, white satin, Worth's latest,
And the flounces and veil real point : see !

The girls are all dying with envy.

Last summer at Newport, the way
They courted the man for his money

Was disgusting, I really must say.
Oh, Tiffany's keeping my diamonds

I shouldn't feel safe with them here ;
I think they will make a sensation ;

No bride has had finer this year.

Of course we are going to Europe,
The state-rooms are taken and all ;

1 low long we shall stay I don't know, but
I guess until late in the fall.


When we get back, I'll give a grand party.

The house he is building up town
Will be something superb when it's finished ;

I wish the man's name wasn't Brown !

In love with him ? Jule ! why, you're joking ;

He's fifty at least, if a day ;
But then, he is really in love, dear,

I'm sure I shall have my own way.
You know I was never romantic ;

If he wants a pretty young wife,
Why, I don't object to be petted

And worshiped the rest of my life.

It's wicked to marry for money ?

Oh, yes, but who likes being poor ?
Don't they say love flies out of the window

When poverty darkens the door ?
I did come near falling in love once

With the handsomest fellow in town,
An artist, with nothing but talent

My stars ! how the pater did frown !

But now he's delighted. Three millions !

What well-brought-up girl dare refuse ?
And the other girls' mothers are wishing

Their own daughters stood in my shoes.
There's myyfowr/now. See his horses !

Perhaps he does look rather grim.
And what of the other young artist ?

Ah, well, we won't talk about him !



u /"^OOD-night, " he said, and he held her hand,

^ In a hesitating way,
And hoped that her eyes would understand

What his tongue refused to say.

lie held her hand and he murmured low :

"I'm sorry to go like this.
It seems so frigidly cool, you know,

This ' Mister ' of ours, and ' Miss.' "

' ' I thought perchance ' ' and he paused to note

If she seemed inclined to frown ;
But the light in her eyes his heartstrings smote,

As she blushingly looked down.

She spoke no word, but she picked a speck

Of dust from his coat lapel ;
So small, such a wee, little, tiny fleck,

'Twas a wonder she saw so well.

But it brought her face so very near,

In that dim, uncertain light,
That the thought, unspoken, was made quite clear,

And I know 'twas a sweet "Good-night."



44 CO she's here, your unknown Dulcinea the lady

you met on the train
And you really believe she would know you if you were

to meet her again ? ' '

" Of course/' he replied, " she would know me ; there

never was womankind yet
Forgot the effect she inspired. She excuses, but does

not forget."

" Then you told her your love ? " asked the elder ; the

younger looked up with a smile ;
"I sat by her side half an hour what else was I doing

the while ?

" What, sit by the side of a woman as fair as the sun in

the sky,
And look somewhere else the dazzle flash back

from your own to her eye ?

" No, I hold that the speech of the tongue be as frank

and as bold as the look,
And I held up herself to herself that \va.; more than

she got from the book."


' ' Young blood ! ' ' laughed the elder ; "no doubt you

are voicing the mode of to-day ;

But then we old fogies at least gave the lady some
' chance for delay.

" There's my wife (you must know) we first met on
the journey from Florence to Rome ;

It took me three weeks to discover who was she and
where was her home !

" Three more to be duly presented ; three more ere I

saw her again ;
And a year ere my romance began where yours ended

that day in the train."

" Oh, that was the style of the stage coach ; we travel

to-day by express ;
Forty miles to the hour, " he answered, "won't admit

of a passion that's less."

" But what if you make a mistake ? " quoth the elder.

The younger half sighed :
"What happens when signals are wrong or switches

misplaced? " he replied.

"Very well, I must bow to your wisdom," the elder

returned, " but submit
Your chances of winning this woman your boldness has

bettered no whit.


" Why, you do not at best know her name, and what if

I try your ideal
With something, if not quite so fair, at least more en

regie and real ?

" Let me find you a partner. Nay, come, I insist

you shall follow this way.
My dear, will you not add your grace to entreat Mr.

Rapid to- stay ?

' ; My wife, Mr. Rapid Eh, what ! Why, he's gone

yet he said he would conu ;
How rude ! I don't wonder, my dear, you are

properly crimson and dumb ! "



1I7ONDERING Maiden, so puzzled and fair,

Why dost thou murmur and ponder and stare ?
, " Why are my eyelids so open and wild ? "
Only the better to see with, my child !
Only the better and clearer to view
Cheeks that are rosy and eyes that arc blue.

Dost thou still wonder and ask why these arms
Fill thy soft bosom with tender alarms,

Swaying so wickedly ? are they misplaced

Clasping or shielding some delicate waist ?
Hands whose coarse sinews may fill you with fear,
Only the better protect you, my dear !

Little Red Riding-Hood, when in the street,
Why do I press your small hand when we meet ?
Why, when you timidly offer your cheek,
Why did I sigh, and why didn't I speak ?

Why, well, you see if the truth must appear

I'm not your grandmother, Riding -Hood, dear !



A DEWY fragrance drifts at times
** Across my willing senses,
And leads the rillet of my rhymes
From city gutters, gusts, and grimes
To lowland fields and fences.

I seem to see, as I inhale

This perfume faint and fleeting,
Green hillsides sloping to a vale,
Whose leafy shadows screen the pale
Wood-flowers from noonday's greeting.

I hear the song the sweet heartache

Of just a pair of thrushes ;
And hear, half dreaming, half awake,
The ripple of a streamlet break

Their momentary hushes.

And why, dear heart, do I to-day,

Hemmed in by court and alley,
Seem lost in haunts of faun and fay ?
Look ! on my coat I've pinned your spray

Of lilies of the valley.



r\LD Hymn Book, sure I thought I'd lo.-.t you

In the days now long gone by ;
I'd forgotten where I tossed you ;
Gracious ! how I sigh.

In the church a thin partition

Stood between her pew and mine ;

And her pious, sweet contrition
Struck me as divine.

Yes, remarkably entrancing

Was she in her sable furs ;
And my eyes were always glancing

Up, old book, to hers.

Bless you, very well she knew it,

And I'm sure she liked it too ;
Once she whispered "Please don't do it,"

But her eyes said l ' Do. ' '



How to speak to tell my passion ?

How to make her think me true ?
Love soon found a curious fashion,

For he spoke through you.

How I vised to search your pages
For the words I wished to say :

And receive my labor's wages
Every Sabbath day !

Ah, how sweet it was to hand her

You, with lines I'd marked when found

And how well I'd understand her
When she blushed and frowned !

And one day, old book, you wriggled
From my hand and, rattling, fell

Upon the floor ; and she she giggled
Did Miss Isabel.

Then when next we met out walking,

I was told in tearful tones
How she'd get a dreadful talking

From the Reverend Jones.

Ah me ! No one could resist her
In those sweet and buried years ;

So I think I think I kissed her,
Just to stop her tears.


Jones I gave a good sound chaffing ;

Called his sermon dry as bones ;
Soon fair Isabel was laughing

Said she hated Jones .

It was after that I lost you

For I needed you no more ;
Somewhere anywhere I tossed you ;

On a closet floor.

Reverend Samuel still preaches ;

Isabel her past atones.
In his Sunday school she teaches

Mrs. Samuel Jones.



H, give me, Eve, that lily hand

Nay, start not with that sucldeu glow
See, palmistry I understand ;
I'll read these lines before I go.

This head-line's full and broad and long,'
I know by that to thought you're wed,

And carry culture rich and strong

Within that graceful, gold-crovvn'd head.

This line of life is straight and deep :
By that I know your future's fair :

Some happiness shall wake from sleep
To light your life with blessings rare

This heart-line is so true ah, well,
One knows that looking in your i'ac<

And in your eyes, that truly tell

How rich the heart must be in grace.

Nay, more I dare not tell, 1 vow ;

I can't perhaps you may divine
But don't you think, pray tell me, now,

Your hand fits very well in mine ?



IV/TY aunt ! my dear unmarried aunt
Long years have o'er her flown ;
Yet still she strains the aching clasp

That binds her virgin zone ;
I know it hurts her though she looks

As cheerful as she can ;
Her waist is ampler than her life,

For life is but a span.

My aunt ! my poor deluded aunt !

Her hair is almost gray ;
Why will she train that winter curl

In such a spring-like way ?
How can she lay her glasses down

And say she reads as well,
When, through a double convex lens,

She just makes out to spell ?

9 8 M}' AUNT,

Her father grandpapa ! forgive

This erring lip its smiles
Vowed she should make the finest girl

Within a hundred miles ;
He sent her to a stylish school ;

'Twas in her thirteenth June ;
And with her, as the rules required,

"Two towels and a spoon."

They braced my aunt against a board.

To make her straight and tall ;
They laced her up, they starved her down,

To make her light and small ;
They pinched her feet, they singed her hair,

They screwed it up with pins ;
Oh, never mortal suffered more

In penance for her sins.

So, when my precious aunt was done

My grandsire brought her back ;
(By daylight, lest some rabid youth

Might follow on the track)
' l Ah ! ' ' said my grandsire, as he shook

Some powder in his pan,
" What could this lovely creature do

Against a desperate man ! "

Alas ! nor chariot, nor barouche,
Nor bandit cavalcade,

Ml ' A UNT.

Tore from the trembling father's arms
His all-accomplished maid,

For her how happy had it been !
And Heaven had spared to me

To see one sad, im^athered rose
On my ancestral tree.



1UELL, Miss, I wonder where you live,

I wonder what's your name,
i wonder how you came to be

In such a stylish frame ;
Perhaps you were a favorite child,

Perhaps an only one ;
Perhaps your friends were not aware

You had your portrait done !

Yet you must be a harmless soul ;

I cannot think that Sin
Would care to throw his loaded dice,

With such a stake to win ;
1 cannot think you would provoke

The poet's wicked pen,
Or make young women bite their lips,

Or ruin fine young men.

Pray, did you ever hear, my love,

Of boys that go about

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Online LibraryErnest De Lancey PiersonThe merry muse; society verse by American writers → online text (page 3 of 7)