Sunday Afternoon in Italy

The man and the maid go side by side
With an interval of space between;
And his hands are awkward and want to hide,
She braves it out since she must be seen.

When some one passes he drops his head,
Shading his face in his black felt hat,
While the hard girl hardens; nothing is said,
There is nothing to wonder or cavil at.

Alone on the open road again,
With the mountain snows across the lake
Flushing the afternoon, they are uncomfortable,
The loneliness daunts them, their stiff throats ache.

And he sighs with relief when she parts from him;
Her proud head held in its black silk scarf
Gone under the archway, home, he can join
The men that lounge in a group on the wharf

His evening is a flame of wine
Among the eager, cordial men.
And she with her women hot and hard
Moves at her ease again.

She is marked, she is singled out
For the fire:
The brand is upon him, look you!
Of desire.

They are chosen, ah, they are fated
For the fight!
Champion her, all you women! Men, menfolk,
Hold him your light!

Nourish her, train her, harden her,
Women all!
Fold him, be good to him, cherish him,
Men, ere he fall.

Women, another champion!
This, men, is yours!
Wreathe and enlap and anoint them
Behind separate doors.
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