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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed. The English Poets. 1880–1918.rnVol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)

The Age of Wisdom (from Rebecca and Rowena)

HO! pretty page, with dimpled chin,

That never has known the barber’s shear,

All your aim is woman to win.

This is the way that boys begin.

Wait till you’ve come to forty year!

Curly gold locks cover foolish brains,

Billing and cooing is all your cheer,

Sighing and singing of midnight strains

Under Bonnybell’s window-panes.

Wait till you’ve come to forty year!

Forty times over let Michaelmas pass,

Grizzling hair the brain doth clear;

Then you know a boy is an ass,

Then you know the worth of a lass,

Once you have come to forty year.

Pledge me round, I bid ye declare,

All good fellows whose beards are grey;

Did not the fairest of the fair

Common grow and wearisome, ere

Ever a month was past away?

The reddest lips that ever have kissed,

The brightest eyes that ever have shone,

May pray and whisper and we not list,

Or look away and never be missed,

Ere yet ever a month was gone.

Gillian’s dead, Heaven rest her bier,

How I loved her twenty years syne!

Marian’s married, but I sit here,

Alive and merry at forty year,

Dipping my nose in the Gascon wine.