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From The Wit and Humor of America, edited by Marshall P. Wilder, Volume IV, New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls and Company, 1911; pp. 725-728.





You ask me if I love you still, tho’ you
     And I were wed scarce one short happy year
     Agone. How well do I remember, dear,
The day you put your hand in mine, and through
Life’s good and ill, tho’ skies were gray or blue,
     We plighted faith that should not know a fear.
     That was the day I kissed away the tear
That trembled on your cheek like morning dew.
     Of course I love you — still. You’re at your best,
     Your perihelion, when you’re silentest.
I’d love you as I did, dear heart, of yore,
     And still a little more, nor ever tire;
     Why, I would love you like a house afire
If you were only still a little more.


I think I loved you first when in your eyes
     I saw the glad, rapt answer to the spell
     Of Paderewski, when we heard him tell
Life’s gentler meaning, Love’s sweet sacrifice.
The master caught the rhythm of your sighs
     And then, inspired, the story rose and fell
     And sang of moonlight in a leafy dell,
Of souls’ Arcadias and dreaming skies,
726      Of hearts and hopes and purposes that blend.
Your bosom heaved beneath the witcheries
     That seemed to set a halo on his brow,
     And then the message sobbed on to its end.
“That’s fine,” you murmured, chewing faster; “please
     Ask him if he won’t play ‘Bedelia’ now.”


You said that you would die for me, if e’er
     That price would buy me happiness. I dreamed
     Not of devotion like to that, that seemed
To joy in sacrifice; that, tenderer
Than selfish Life’s small immolations were,
     Made Love an altar whereupon it deemed
     It naught to offer all; a shrine that gleamed
With utter loyalty’s red drops. I ne’er
     Believed that you were just quite in your head
In saying death would prove Fidelity.
     But when I saw the packages of white and red
Your druggist showed me — he’s my chum, you see —
     I knew you meant, dear heart, just what you said,
When you declared that you would dye for me.


Your smiles, dear one, have all the glad surprise
     The sunshine hath for roses; what the day
     Brings to the waiting lark. When you are gay
My spirit sings in tune, and sorrow flies
Away. But, dear, I can not bear your sighs
     When on my knees you nestle and you lay
     Your tear-wet face upon my shoulder. Nay,
I can not help the pain that fills mine eyes.
727 So, love, whatever cup of Life you drain
     I’ll stand for. Send the cashier’s check to me.
“Smile” all you want to; smile and smile again.
     But as you weigh two hundred pounds, you see
     Why, when you cuddle down upon my knee,
It is your size, dear heart, that gives me pain.


The heartless years have many hopes dispelled.
     But they have left me one dear night in June.
     They’ve left the still white splendor of the moon.
They’ve left the mem’ry of a hand I held.
While up thro’ all my soul the rapture welled
     Of victory. I hear again the croon
     Of twilight time, the lullaby that soon
To all the day’s glad music shall have swelled.
     I hold a hand I never held before,
     A hand like which I’ll never hold some more.
It was the first time I had ever “called.”
     ’Twas at the club, as we began to leave.
I held five aces, but the dealer balled
     The ones that he had planted up his sleeve.


To feel your hand stray shyly to my head
     And flutter down like birds that find their nest,
     To see the gentle rise and fall of your dear breast,
To hear again some tender word you said,
To watch the little feet whose dainty tread
     Fell light as flowers upon the way they pressed,
     to touch again the lips I have caressed —
All these are precious. But your cheek of red
     Outlives the mem’ry of all other things.
728 I’d known you scarce a month, or maybe two;
     I had not yet made up my mind to speak,
     You trots out Tifny’s catalogue of rings;
Says No. 6 (200 yen) will do.
So I remember best of all your cheek.


You would not stop this side the farthest line
     Of Truth, you said, nor hide one little falsity
     From my sweet faith that was too kind to see.
You said a keener vision would divine
All failings later, bare each hid design,
     Each poor disguise of loving’s treachery
     That screened its weaknesses from even me.
How oft you said those cherry lips were mine
     Alone. The cherries came in little jars,
I learned. Those auburn locks, I found with pain,
     Cost forty plunks, according to the bill
I saw. Those pearly teeth were porcelain.
     But I forgive you for each fault that mars.
     With all your faults, dear heart, I love you still.

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