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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Frederick Swartwout Cozzens (1818–1869)

An Experience and a Moral

I LENT my love a book one day;

She brought it back; I laid it by:

’Twas little either had to say,—

She was so strange, and I so shy.

But yet we loved indifferent things,—

The sprouting buds, the birds in tune,—

And Time stood still and wreathed his wings

With rosy links from June to June.

For her, what task to dare or do?

What peril tempt? what hardship bear!

But with her—ah! she never knew

My heart, and what was hidden there!

And she with me, so cold and coy,

Seemed like a maid bereft of sense;

But in the crowd, all life and joy,

And full of blushful impudence.

She married,—well, a woman needs

A mate, her life and love to share,—

And little cares sprang up like weeds

And played around her elbow-chair.

And years rolled by—but I, content,

Trimmed my own lamp, and kept it bright,

Till age’s touch my hair besprent

With rays and gleams of silver light.

And then it chanced I took the book

Which she perused in days gone by;

And as I read, such passion shook

My soul,—I needs must curse or cry.

For, here and there, her love was writ,

In old, half-faded pencil-signs,

As if she yielded—bit by bit—

Her heart in dots and underlines.

Ah, silvered fool, too late you look!

I know it; let me here record

This maxim: Lend no girl a book

Unless you read it afterward!