Cards, and swords, and a lady's love,
That is a tale worth reading,
An insult veiled, a downcast glove,
And rapiers leap unheeding.
And 'tis O! for the brawl,
The thrust, the fall,
And the foe at your feet a-bleeding.
Tales of revel at wayside inns,
The goblets gaily filling,
Braggarts boasting a thousand sins,
Though none can boast a shilling.
And 'tis O! for the wine,
The frothing stein,
And the clamour of cups a-spilling.
Tales of maidens in rich brocade,
Powder and puff and patches,
Gallants lilting a serenade
Of old-time trolls and catches.
And 'tis O! for the lips
And the finger tips,
And the kiss that the boldest snatches.
Tales of buckle and big rosette,
The slender shoe adorning,
Of curtseying through the minuet
With laughter, love, or scorning.
And 'tis O! for the shout
Of the roustabout,
As he hies him home in the morning.
Cards and swords, and a lady's love,
Give to the tale God-speeding,
War and wassail, and perfumed glove,
And all that's rare in reading.
And 'tis O! for the ways
Of the olden days,
And a life that was worth the leading.