How A Princess Was Wooed From Habitual Sadness

A poem by Guy Wetmore Carryl

In days of old the King of Saxe
Had singular opinions,
For with a weighty battle-axe
He brutalized his minions,
And, when he'd nothing to employ
His mind, he chose a village,
And with an air of savage joy
Delivered it to pillage.

But what aroused within his breast
A rage well-nigh primeval
Was, most of all, his daughter, dressed
In fashion mediƦval:
The gowns that pleased this maiden's eye
Were simple as Utopia,
And for a hat she had a high
Inverted cornucopia.

In all her life she'd never smiled,
Her sadness was abysmal:
The boisterous monarch found his child
Unutterably dismal.
He therefore said the prince who made
Her laughter from its shell come,
Besides in ducats being paid,
Might wed the girl, and welcome!

I ought to say, ere I forget,
She was uncommon comely--
(Who ever read a Grimm tale yet,
In which the girl was homely?)
And so the King's announcement drew
Nine princes in a column.
But all in vain. The princess grew,
If anything, more solemn.

One read her "Innocents Abroad,"
The next wore clothes eccentric,
The third one swallowed half his sword,
As in the circus-tent trick.
Thus eight of them into her cool
Reserve but deeper shoved her:
There was but one authentic fool--
The prince who really loved her!

He'd alternate between the height
Of hope and deep abasement,
He caught distressing colds at night,
By watching 'neath her casement:
He did what I have done, I know,
And you, I do not doubt it,--
Instead of bottling up his woe,
He bored his friends about it!

In brooding on the ways of Fate
Long hours he daily wasted,
His food remained upon his plate,
'Twas scarcely touched or tasted:
He said the bitter things of love,
All lovers, save a few, say,
And learned by heart the verses of
Swinburne, and A. de Musset!

This attitude his wished-for bride
To silent laughter goaded,
Until he talked of suicide,
And then the girl exploded!
"You make me laugh, and so," she said,
"I'll marry you next season."
(Not half the people who are wed
Have half so good a reason!)


The Moral: The deliberate clown
Can never beat love's barriers down:
'Tis better to be like the owl,
Comic because so grave a fowl.
From him we well may take our cue--
By him be taught, to wit, to woo!

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