My Jolly Friend's Secret

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Ah, friend of mine, how goes it
Since you've taken you a mate? -
Your smile, though, plainly shows it
Is a very happy state!
Dan Cupid's necromancy!
You must sit you down and dine,
And lubricate your fancy
With a glass or two of wine.

And as you have "deserted,"
As my other chums have done,
While I laugh alone diverted,
As you drop off one by one - -
And I've remained unwedded,
Till - you see - look here - that I'm,
In a manner, "snatched bald-headed"
By the sportive hand of Time!

I'm an "old 'un!" yes, but wrinkles
Are not so plenty, quite,
As to cover up the twinkles
Of the boy - ain't I right?
Yet there are ghosts of kisses
Under this mustache of mine
My mem'ry only misses
When I drown 'em out with wine.

From acknowledgment so ample,
You would hardly take me for
What I am - a perfect sample
Of a "jolly bachelor";
Not a bachelor has being
When he laughs at married life
But his heart and soul's agreeing
That he ought to have a wife!

Ah, ha! old chum, this claret,
Like Fatima, holds the key
Of the old Blue-Beardish garret
Of my hidden mystery!
Did you say you'd like to listen?
Ah, my boy! the "Sad No More!"
And the tear-drops that will glisten -
Turn the catch upon the door,

And sit you down beside me
And put yourself at ease -
I'll trouble you to slide me
That wine decanter, please;
The path is kind o' mazy
Where my fancies have to go,
And my heart gets sort o' lazy
On the journey - don't you know?

Let me see - when I was twenty -
It's a lordly age, my boy,
When a fellow's money's plenty,
And the leisure to enjoy -

And a girl - with hair as golden
As - that; and lips - well - quite
As red as this I'm holdin'
Between you and the light?

And eyes and a complexion -
Ah, heavens! - le'-me-see -
Well, - just in this connection, -
Did you lock that door for me?
Did I start in recitation
My past life to recall?
Well, that's an indication
I am purty tight - that's all!

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