I was annoyed with myself for
Saying I loved her, because
What I wanted, then, was
Less, or more.
And it was no fun
Putting her head in a whirl;
She was such a quiet girl;
It’s not done.
Anyhow, I didn’t do it;
I just kissed her, and then
Tried not to see her again,
Feeling rather a brute.
Perhaps I should have gone
Through with it; she’d have had
One sin, when she was old and sad,
To congratulate herself on.
But I remember, I thought at the time:
You’d better not;
They hang on to what they’ve got
You eat the fruit and sing;
When you’ve had enough,
They talk all about love,
And you’re caught there, twittering;
Afraid to look her in the face,
Afraid of what people may say,
Afraid of her relations all day,
And at night, of an imagined disgrace;
Or you have her tagged on to you
For the term of your natural life,
And have to say, “This is my wife;
This is the best I could do”;
And somehow in the end you find
She sits like an over-ripe tomato,
Or walks like a scarecrow,
Because of her beautiful mind:
Like something or other; like a red crystal
Dropped into the pellucid cup
Of a man’s life; time melts it up,
And the lying purple permeates all.
I have seen how many a match
Has gone this way; how an honest man
With a clear mind, can
Turn slowly to a lovely purple patch.
Sometimes I wish I could myself; but
I should not easily come to heel,
I feel, and I feel
I should feel I was getting into a rut.
So perhaps it’s all in the best. interest
Of girls in general; for their part
They take heart;
Indeed, they seem singularly unimpressed
While I sit wearily in my sitting room
And watch the virtuous hands of the clock
Turning the afternoon into a lock
On shadows coinciding with my gloom.
It’s the way I’m made,
Probably. God knows.
As the twig’s bent, it grows,