Want And I

A poem by Morris Rosenfeld

Who's there? who's there? who was it tried
To force the entrance I've denied?
An 'twere a friend, I'd gladly borne it,
But no--'twas Want! I could have sworn it.
I heard thy voice, old witch, I know thee!
Avaunt, thou evil hag, beshrew thee!
God's curse! why seekest thou to find me?
Away to all black years behind me!

To torture me was thine endeavor,
My body from my soul to sever,
Of pride and courage to deprive me,
And into beggary to drive me.
Begone, where thousand devils burn--
Begone, nor evermore return!
Begone, most wretched thou of creatures,
And hide for aye thine hateful features!
--Beloved, ope the door in pity!

No friend have I in all the city
Save thee, then open to my call!
The night is bleak, the snowflakes fall.
Thine own, old Want am I, believe me!
Ah, what delight, wilt thou receive me?
I found, when I from thee had parted,
No friend but he was fickle-hearted!

Away, old hag! Thou liest, lo,
Thou harbinger of pain and woe!
Away--am I thine only friend?
Thy lovers pale, they have no end!
Thou vile one, may the devil take thee!
Begone and no more visits make me!
For--Yiddish writers not to mention--
Men hold thee no such rare invention.

--'Tis true! yet those must wait my leisure.
To be with thee is now my pleasure.
I love thy black and curling hair,
I love thy wounded heart's despair,
I love thy sighs, I love to swallow
Thy tears and all thy songs to follow.
Oh great indeed, might I but show it,
My love for thee, my pale-faced poet!

Away, I've heard all that before,
And am a writer, mark, no more.
Instead of verses, wares I tell,
And candy and tobacco sell.
My life is sweet, my life is bitter.
I'm ready and a prompt acquitter.
Oh, smarter traders there are many,
Yet live I well and turn a penny.

--A dealer then wilt thou remain,
Forever from the pen abstain?
Good resolutions time disperses:
Thou yet shalt hunger o'er thy verses,
But vainly seeking to excuse thee
Because thou dost, tonight, refuse me.
Then open, fool, I tell thee plain,
That we perforce shall meet again.

Begone the way that I direct thee!
I've millionaires now to protect me;
No need to beg, no need to borrow,
Nor fear a penniless tomorrow,
Nor walk with face of blackest omen
To thrill the hearts of stupid foemen,
Who fain my pride to earth would bring,
Because, forsooth, I sweetly sing!

--Ho ho! ere thou art grown much older,
Thy millionaires will all grow colder.
Thou soon shalt be forgotten by them--
They've other things to occupy them!
Just now with thee they're playing kindly,
But fortune's wheel is turning blindly
To grind thy pleasures ere thou know it--
And thou art left to me, my poet!

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