O hapless day! O wretched day!
I hoped you'd pass me by--
Alas, the years have sneaked away
And all is changed but I!
Had I the power, I would remand
You to a gloom condign,
But here you've crept upon me and
I--I am thirty-nine!
Now, were I thirty-five, I could
Assume a flippant guise;
Or, were I forty years, I should
Undoubtedly look wise;
For forty years are said to bring
But thirty-nine don't mean a thing--
À bas with thirty-nine!
You healthy, hulking girls and boys,--
What makes you grow so fast?
Oh, I'll survive your lusty noise--
I'm tough and bound to last!
No, no--I'm old and withered too--
I feel my powers decline
(Yet none believes this can be true
Of one at thirty-nine).
And you, dear girl with velvet eyes,
I wonder what you mean
Through all our keen anxieties
By keeping sweet sixteen.
With your dear love to warm my heart,
Wretch were I to repine;
I was but jesting at the start--
I'm glad I'm thirty-nine!
So, little children, roar and race
As blithely as you can,
And, sweetheart, let your tender grace
Exalt the Day and Man;
For then these factors (I'll engage)
All subtly shall combine
To make both juvenile and sage
The one who's thirty-nine!
Yes, after all, I'm free to say
I would much rather be
Standing as I do stand to-day,
'Twixt devil and deep sea;
For though my face be dark with care
Or with a grimace shine,
Each haply falls unto my share,
For I am thirty-nine!
'Tis passing meet to make good cheer
And lord it like a king,
Since only once we catch the year
That doesn't mean a thing.
O happy day! O gracious day!
I pledge thee in this wine--
Come, let us journey on our way
A year, good Thirty-Nine!
Sept. 2, 1889.