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

Robert Buchanan (1841–1901)


WHEREVER I wander, up and about,

This is the puzzle I can’t make out—

Because I care little for books, no doubt:

I have a wife, and she is wise,

Deep in philosophy, strong in Greek;

Spectacles shadow her pretty eyes,

Coteries rustle to hear her speak;

She writes a little—for love, not fame;

Has published a book with a dreary name:

And yet (God bless her!) is mild and meek.

And how I happened to woo and wed

A wife so pretty and wise withal,

Is part of the puzzle that fills my head—

Plagues me at daytime, racks me in bed,

Haunts me, and makes me appear so small.

The only answer that I can see

Is—I could not have married Hermione

(That is her fine wise name), but she

Stooped in her wisdom and married me.

For I am a fellow of no degree,

Given to romping and jollity;

The Latin they thrashed into me at school

The world and its fights have thrashed away:

At figures alone I am no fool,

And in city circles I say my say.

But I am a dunce at twenty-nine,

And the kind of study that I think fine

Is a chapter of Dickens, a sheet of the Times,

When I lounge, after work, in my easy-chair;

Punch for humor, and Praed for rhymes,

And the butterfly mots blown here and there

By the idle breath of the social air.

A little French is my only gift,

Wherewith at times I can make a shift,

Guessing at meanings, to flutter over

A filigree tale in a paper cover.

Hermione, my Hermione!

What could your wisdom perceive in me?

And Hermione, my Hermione!

How does it happen at all that we

Love one another so utterly?

Well, I have a bright-eyed boy of two,

A darling who cries with lung and tongue about;

As fine a fellow, I swear to you,

As ever poet of sentiment sung about!

And my lady-wife with the serious eyes

Brightens and lightens when he is nigh,

And looks, although she is deep and wise,

As foolish and happy as he or I!

And I have the courage just then, you see,

To kiss the lips of Hermione—

Those learnèd lips that the learnèd praise—

And to clasp her close as in sillier days;

To talk and joke in a frolic vein,

To tell her my stories of things and men:

And it never strikes me that I’m profane,

For she laughs and blushes, and kisses again;

And presto! fly! goes her wisdom then!

For boy claps hands, and is up on her breast,

Roaring to see her so bright with mirth,

And I know she deems me (oh the jest!)

The cleverest fellow on all the earth!

And Hermione, my Hermione,

Nurses her boy and defers to me;

Does not seem to see I’m small—

Even to think me a dunce at all!

And wherever I wander, up and about,

Here is the puzzle I can’t make out:

That Hermione, my Hermione,

In spite of her Greek and philosophy,

When sporting at night with her boy and me,

Seems sweeter and wiser, I assever—

Sweeter and wiser and far more clever,

And makes me feel more foolish than ever,

Through her childish, girlish, joyous grace,

And the silly pride in her learnèd face!

This is the puzzle I can’t make out—

Because I care little for books, no doubt;

But the puzzle is pleasant, I know not why,

For whenever I think of it, night or morn,

I thank my God she is wise, and I

The happiest fool that was ever born!