by: Bret Harte (1836-1902)
- H, here's
the spot -- the very tree
- Where once I carved an L. and E.,
- Symbolical of her and me
- Bound in Love's rosy fetters;
- Since then five weary years are spent,
- And yet I think we're both content
- That in Love's Book we never went
- Beyond our simple letters.
- For, looking through the rustling leaves,
- I see the humble cottage eaves
- Where now my Em. no longer weaves
- Her mystic maiden fancies,
- But milks her cows -- she called 'em kine
- In the brave days when she was mine--
- But now she's dropped those phrases fine
- She borrowed from romances.
- But here's the place -- the very tree
- Where once I fell on bended knee
- And breathed my burning vows -- while she
- Stood by in pale pink muslin.
- I kissed her hand -- but why revamp
- Old feelings now? -- the grass is damp,
- And what with this rheumatic cramp
- To kneel now would be puzzling.
- She walks no more 'neath starlit skies,
- She calls the evening mists that rise
- Miasma, and the dew that lies
- Is damp and cold and shocking.
- She now wears boots. Five years ago
- Her skirts she gathered up below;
- 'T was not from dampness, but to show
- Her slippers and white stocking.
- Beneath this shade we used to read
- "Maud Muller," and we both agreed
- The Judge was wrong -- but why proceed?
- She's married to another!
- She has not pined -- that form is stout
- That once this arm was clasped about,
- She has two girls; they're both, no doubt,
- The image of their mother!
- She said she loved not "wealth or state,"
- But most adored the "wise and great,"
- And gave a look to intimate
- That this was my complexion;
- "Her husband should be eyed like Mars,"
- That's he, there, letting down the bars,
- In cowhide boots. No doubt her Pa's,
- But O, not her selection!
- And yet, am I her young love's dream:
- The pensive lover that did seem
- The rightful Prince who should redeem
- The promise of her fancies?
- And I that same dyspeptic youth
- Who rang the chimes on "sooth" and "truth,"
- Minus that cuspidate tooth
- Whose presence kills romances?
- O Love, behind yon leafy screen!
- Why can't all trees be evergreen?
- Why can't all girls be sweet sixteen,
- All men but one-and-twenty?
- Why are the scars that hearts must wear
- Deeper than those yon tree may bear?
- And why are lovers now so rare,
- And married folk so plenty?
POEMS BY BRET HARTE
"Arcadia Revisited" is
reprinted from The Writings of Bret Harte, Vol. XX. Ed.
Charles Meeker Kozlay. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1914. This
poem was originally published in the Californian, July