Alexander Anderson

1845-1909 / Scotland


I sat—in church, of course—and heard
The parson thunder forth his sermon.
'The text!' you say—well that's absurd,
You ask me what I am not firm on.
But entre nous, remember that,
For I am half afraid of libel,—
My text was in the pew, where sat
Sweet Jenny busy with her Bible.
Of course, you saw that charming girl—
By Jove, those eyes of hers were witching;
And then what lips! and, O, each curl—
No wonder that I thought of hitching.
Had I been with her in the pew
And touched her hand, without a falter
I should have risen full in view
And thought I stood before the altar.
The sermon might be good or bad;
Good, I should say—I knew the preacher—
But really, Jenny, though it's sad
To say it, was my only teacher.
I looked into her soft brown eyes,
And, as I saw their gospels beaming,
I thought of far-off Paradise,
And dreamt, and Eve was in my dreaming.
What meetings we had by the stile,
When sunset made the earth a glory:
The clasp of hands, the tender smile,
The whisper and the old, old story.
Oh! love and youth, and all the power
That beats strong as a wave that's tidal;
The golden ring, the orange flower,
And all the passion of the bridal.
I saw myself a happy man,
And rich, though owning scarce a penny;
A home that love itself might plan,
An angel in it—that was Jenny.
Around her all the air took light,
She was, as Patmore sings divinely—
'The Angel in the House,' so bright,
And ruling my affairs benignly.
Years came and went, and all the rest,
And, though my hair was growing thinner,
I had that curve about the vest
Which spoke of the domestic dinner.
Gone, too, the ways that youth will range,
Ere manhood brings us to an anchor,
And in their place—no bad exchange—
A growing balance with my banker.
My lot was such from day to day,
That any little whiff of trouble
But came to make, when passed away,
My simple, sober pleasures double.
I had—but here there came a flaw
That overset my fancy's cradle,
I turned, and at my elbow saw
A douce Scots elder with the ladle.
Gone was my dream that was so sweet;
I felt just like that Eastern fellow
Who kicked his basket with his feet
And lost what nearly turned him yellow.
Well, well, 'we are such stuff,' supply
The rest yourself—I took a penny,
And in the ladle with a sigh
Dropped it, and all my hopes of Jenny.
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