Elizabeth Stoddard



A Few Idle Words

by Elizabeth Stoddard

So, I must believe that I loved you once!
These letters say so;
And here is your picture -- how you have changed!
It was long ago.

The gloss is worn from this lock of black hair --
You can have them all,
And with these treasures a few idle words,
That I will not recall.

What a child I was when you met me first!
Was I handsome then?
I think you remember the very night,
It was half-past ten,

When you came upstairs, so tired of the men,
And tired of the wine;
You said you loved lilies (my dress was white),
And hated to dine.

The dowagers nodded behind their fans;
I played an old song;
You told an old tale, I thought it so new,
And I thought so long.

True, I had read the Arabian Nights,
And Amadis de Gaul;
But I never had found a modern knight
In our books at the Hall.

You tore your hand with the thorns of the rose
That looped up my sleeve,
And a drop of red blood fell on my arm --
You asked, Do you grieve?

That drop of your blood made mine flow fast
But you sipped your tea
With a nonchalant air, and balanced the spoon,
And balanced poor me,

In the scale with my stocks, and farms, and mines.
Did it tremble at all?
When my cousin, the heir, turned up one day,
We both had a fall!

Well, we meet again, and I look at you
With a quiet surprise;
I think your ennui possesses me now,
And am quite as wise.

To me it was only a dream of love,
A defeat to you:
It was not your first, may be not your last --
Here, take them -- Adieu!


Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company, Boston And New York