SCENE: A roadside in Arcady
Good sir, have you seen pass this way
A mischief straight from market-day?
You'd know her at a glance, I think;
Her eyes are blue, her lips are pink;
She has a way of looking back
Over her shoulder, and, alack!
Who gets that look one time, good sir,
Has naught to do but follow her.
I have not seen this maid, methinks,
Though she that passed had lips like pinks.
Or like two strawberries made one
By some sly trick of dew and sun.
Nay, a simple swain
That tends his flock on yonder plain,
Naught else, I swear by book and bell.
But she that passed--you marked her well.
Was she not smooth as any be
That dwell herein in Arcady?
Her skin was as the satin bark
Light or dark?
Then 'twas not she.
The peach's side
That's next the sun is not so dyed
As was her cheek. Her hair hung down
Like summer twilight falling brown;
And when the breeze swept by, I wist
Her face was in a sombre mist.
No, that is not the maid I seek.
HER hair lies gold against the cheek;
Her yellow tresses take the morn
Like silken tassels of the corn.
And yet--brown locks are far from bad.
Now I bethink me, this one had
A figure like the willow-tree
Which, slight and supple, wondrously
Inclines to droop with pensive grace,
And still retains its proper place;
A foot so arched and very small
The marvel was she walked at all;
Her hand--in sooth I lack for words--
Her hand, five slender snow-white birds.
Her voice--though she but said "God-speed"--
Was melody blown through a reed;
The girl Pan changed into a pipe
Had not a note so full and ripe.
And then her eye--my lad, her eye!
Discreet, inviting, candid, shy,
An outward ice, an inward fire,
And lashes to the heart's desire--
Soft fringes blacker than the sloe.
Good sir, which way did THIS one go?
. . . . . . . .
So, he is off! The silly youth
Knoweth not Love in sober sooth.
He loves--thus lads at first are blind--
No woman, only Womankind.
I needs must laugh, for, by the Mass,
No maid at all did this way pass!
Bagatelle by Thomas Bailey Aldrich