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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Austin Dobson 1840–1921

A Gage D’Amour


CHARLES,—for it seems you wish to know,—

You wonder what could scare me so,

And why, in this long-locked bureau,

With trembling fingers,—

With tragic air, I now replace

This ancient web of yellow lace,

Among whose faded folds the trace

Of perfume lingers.

Friend of my youth, severe as true,

I guess the train your thoughts pursue;

But this my state is nowise due

To indigestion;

I had forgotten it was there,

A scarf that Some-one used to wear.

Hinc illæ lacrimæ,—so spare

Your cynic question.

Some-one who is not girlish now,

And wed long since. We meet and bow;

I don’t suppose our broken vow

Affects us keenly;

Yet, trifling though my act appears,

Your Sternes would make it ground for tears;—

One can’t disturb the dust of years,

And smile serenely.

“My golden locks” are gray and chill,

For hers,—let them be sacred still;

But yet, I own, a boyish thrill

Went dancing through me,

Charles, when I held yon yellow lace;

For, from its dusty hiding-place,

Peeped out an arch, ingenuous face

That beckoned to me.

We shut our heart up nowadays,

Like some old music-box that plays

Unfashionable airs that raise

Derisive pity;

Alas,—a nothing starts the spring;

And lo, the sentimental thing

At once commences quavering

Its lover’s ditty.

Laugh, if you like. The boy in me,—

The boy that was,—revived to see

The fresh young smile that shone when she,

Of old, was tender.

Once more we trod the Golden Way,—

That mother you saw yesterday,

And I, whom none can well portray

As young, or slender.

She twirled the flimsy scarf about

Her pretty head, and stepping out,

Slipped arm in mine, with half a pout

Of childish pleasure.

Where we were bound no mortal knows,

For then you plunged in Ireland’s woes,

And brought me blankly back to prose

And Gladstone’s measure.

Well, well, the wisest bend to Fate.

My brown old books around me wait,

My pipe still holds, unconfiscate,

Its wonted station.

Pass me the wine. To Those that keep

The bachelor’s secluded sleep

Peaceful, inviolate, and deep,

I pour libation.