A BACHELOR TO A MARRIED FLIRT

All that a man can say of woman's charms,
Mine eyes have spoken and my lips have told
To you a thousand times. Your perfect arms,
(A replica from that lost Melos mould)
The fair, firm crescents of your bosom (shown
With full intent to make their splendors known.)

Your eyes (that mask with innocence their guile),
The (artful) artlessness of all your ways,
Your kiss-provoking mouth, its lure, its smile,
All these have had my fond and frequent praise.
And something more than praise to you I gave--
Something which made you know me as your slave.

Yet slaves at times grow mutinous, and rebel,
Here in this morning hour from you apart
The mood is on me to be frank and tell
The thoughts long hidden deep down in my heart:
These thoughts are bitter thorny plants, that grew
Below the flowers of praise I plucked for you.

Those flowery praises, led you to suppose
You were my benefactor. Well, in truth
When lovely woman on dull man bestows
Sweet favors of her beauty and her youth,
He is her debtor, I am yours; and yet
You robbed me while you placed me thus in debt.

I owe you for keen moments when you stirred
My senses with your beauty; when your eyes,
(Your wanton eyes) belied the prudent word
Your curled lips uttered. You are worldly wise
And while you like to set men's hearts on flame
You take no risks in that old passion game.

The carnal, common self of dual me,
Found pleasure in this danger play of yours.
(An egotist man always thinks to be
The victor if his patience but endures,
And holds in leash the bounds of fierce desire,
Until the silly woman's heart takes fire.)

But now it is the Higher Self who speaks:
The Me of me--the inner man--the real--
Who ever dreams his dream and ever seeks
To bring to earth his beautiful ideal.
That life-long dream with all its promised joy
Your soft bedevilments have helped destroy.

Woman, how can I hope for happy life
In days to come at my own nuptial hearth,
When you who bear the honored name of wife
So lightly hold the dearest gifts of earth?
Descending from your pedestal, alas!
You shake the pedestals of all your class.

A vain, flirtatious wife, is like a thief
Who breaks into the temple of men's souls,
And steals the golden vessels of belief
The swinging censers, and the incense bowls.
All women seem less loyal and less true,
Less worthy of men's faith since I met you.

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.


Back to Poem Index