Love Lane

If I should love a maiden more,
And woo her ev'ry hope to crown,
I'd love her all the country o'er,
But not declare it out of town.

One even, by a mossy bank,
That held a hornet's nest within,
To Ellen on my knees I sank, —
How snakes will twine around the shin!

A bashful fear my soul unnerved,
And gave my heart a backward tug;
Nor was I cheer'd when she observed,
Whilst I was silent, — " What a slug! "

At length my offer I preferr'd,
And Hope a kind reply forebode —
Alas! the only sound I heard
Was, " What a horrid ugly toad! "

I vow'd to give her all my heart,
To love her till my life took leave,
And painted all a lover's smart —
Except a wasp gone up his sleeve!

But when I ventured to abide
Her father's and her mother's grants —
Sudden, she started up, and cried,
" O dear! I am all over ants! "

Nay when beginning to beseech
The cause that led to my rebuff,
The answer was as strange a speech,
A " Daddy-Longlegs sure enough! "

I spoke of fortune — house, — and lands,
And still renew'd the warm attack, —
'Tis vain to offer ladies hands
That have a spider on the back!

'Tis vain to talk of hopes and fears,
And hope the least reply to win,
From any maid that stops her ears
In dread of earwigs creeping in!

'Tis vain to call the dearest names
Whilst stoats and weasels startle by —
As vain to talk of mutual flames,
To one with glowworms in her eye!

What check'd me in my fond address,
And knock'd each pretty image down?
What stopp'd my Ellen's faltering Yes?
A caterpillar on her gown!

To list to Philomel is sweet —
To see the Moon rise silver-pale, —
But not to kneel at Lady's feet
And crush a rival in a snail!

Sweet is the eventide, and kind
Its zephyr, balmy as the south;
But sweeter still to speak your mind
Without a chafer in your mouth!

At last, embolden'd by my bliss,
Still fickle Fortune play'd me foul,
For when I strove to snatch a kiss
She scream'd — by proxy, through an owl!

Then, Lovers, doom'd to life or death,
Shun moonlight, twilight, lanes, and bats,
Lest you should have in self-same breath
To bless your fate — and curse the gnats!
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