John Hay

John Hay

October 8, 1838 - July 1, 1905


How It Happened

by John Hay

I pray you, pardon me, Elsie,
And smile that frown away
That dims the light of your lovely face
As a thunder-cloud the day.
I really could not help it, --
Before I thought, 't was done, --
And those great gray eyes flashed bright and cold,
Like an icicle in the sun.

I was thinking of the summers
When we were boys and girls,
And wandered in the blossoming woods,
And the gay winds romped with your curls.
And you seemed to me the same little girl
I kissed in the alder-path,
I kissed the little girl's lips, and alas!
I have roused a woman's wrath.

There is not so much to pardon, --
For why were your lips so red?
The blond hair fell in a shower of gold
From the proud, provoking head.
And the beauty that flashed from the splendid eyes,
And played round the tender mouth,
Rushed over my soul like a warm sweet wind
That blows from the fragrant south.

And where, after all, is the harm done?
I believe we were made to be gay,
And all of youth not given to love
Is vainly squandered away.
And strewn through life's low labors,
Like gold in the desert sands,
Are love's swift kisses and sighs and vows
And the clasp of clinging hands.

And when you are old and lonely,
In Memory's magic shine
You will see on your thin and wasting hands,
Like gems, these kisses of mine.
And when you muse at evening
At the sound of some vanished name,
The ghost of my kisses shall touch your lips
And kindle your heart to flame.


Copyright 1897
Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston