Premiers Amours.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

Old Loves and old dreams,--
"Requiescant in pace."
How strange now it seems,--
"Old" Loves and "old" dreams!
Yet we once wrote you reams
Maude, Alice, and Gracie!
Old Loves and old dreams,--
"Requiescant in pace."

When I called at the "Hollies" to-day,
In the room with the cedar-wood presses,
Aunt Deb. was just folding away
What she calls her "memorial dresses."

She'd the frock that she wore at fifteen,--
Short-waisted, of course--my abhorrence;
She'd "the loveliest"--something in "een"
That she wears in her portrait by Lawrence;

She'd the "jelick" she used--"as a Greek," (!)
She'd the habit she got her bad fall in;
She had e'en the blue moiré antique
That she opened Squire Grasshopper's ball in:--

New and old they were all of them there:--
Sleek velvet and bombazine stately,--
She had hung them each over a chair
To the "paniers" she's taken to lately

(Which she showed me, I think, by mistake).
And I conned o'er the forms and the fashions,
Till the faded old shapes seemed to wake
All the ghosts of my passed-away "passions;"--

From the days of love's youthfullest dream,
When the height of my shooting idea
Was to burn, like a young Polypheme,
For a somewhat mature Galatea.

There was Lucy, who "tiffed" with her first,
And who threw me as soon as her third came;
There was Norah, whose cut was the worst,
For she told me to wait till my "berd" came;

Pale Blanche, who subsisted on salts;
Blonde Bertha, who doted on Schiller;
Poor Amy, who taught me to waltz;
Plain Ann, that I wooed for the "siller;"--

All danced round my head in a ring,
Like "The Zephyrs" that somebody painted,
All shapes of the feminine thing--
Shy, scornful, seductive, and sainted,--

To my Wife, in the days she was young....
"How, Sir," says that lady, disgusted,
"Do you dare to include ME among
Your loves that have faded and rusted?"

"Not at all!"--I benignly retort.
(I was just the least bit in a temper!)
"Those, alas! were the fugitive sort,
But you are my--eadem semper!"

Full stop,--and a Sermon. Yet think,--
There was surely good ground for a quarrel,--
She had checked me when just on the brink
Of--I feel--a remarkable MORAL.

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