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Owen Meredith
(Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton)
1831 - 1891


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See-Saw

SHE was a harlot, and I was a thief:
But we loved each other beyond belief:
She lived in the garret, and I in the kitchen,
And love was all that we both were rich in.
 
When they sent her at last to the hospital,
Both day and night my tears did fall.
They fell so fast, that, to dry their grief,
I borrowed my neighbor's handerchief.
 
The world, which, as it is brutally taught,
Still judges the act in lieu of the thought,
Found my hand in my neighbour's pocket,
And clapped me, at once, under chain and locket.
 
When they asked me about it, I told them plain
Love it was that had turned my brain:
How should I heed where my hand had been,
When my heart was dreaming of Celestine?
 
Twelve friends were so struck by my woful air,
That they sent me abroad for a change of air:
And, to prove me the kindness of their intent,
They sent me at charge of the Government.
 
When I came back again, --whom, think you, I meet
But Celestine, here in Regent Street?
In a carriage adorned with a coronet,
And a dress, all flounces, and lace, and jet:
 
For her carriage drew up at the bookseller's door,
Where they publish those nice little books for the poor:
I took off my hat: and my face she knew,
And gave me -- a sermon by Mr. Belew.
 
But she gave me (God bless her!) along with the book,
Such a sweet sort of smile, such a heavenly look,
That, as long as I live, I shall never forget
Celestine, in her coach with the earl's coronet.
 
There's a game that men play at in great London-town:
Whereby some must go up, sir, and some must go down:
And, since the mud sticks to your coat if you fall,
Why, the strongest among us keep close to the wall.
 
But some day, soon or late, in my shoes I shall stand,
More exalted than any great duke in the land;
A clean shirt on my back, and a rose in my coat,
And a collar conferred by the Queen round my throat.
 
And I know that my Celestine will never forget
To be there, in her coach with my lord's coronet:
She will smile to me then, as she smiled to me now:
I shall nod to her gayly, and make her my bow; --
 
Before I rejoin all those famous old thieves
Whose deeds have immortalized Rome, sir, and Greece;
Whose names are inscribed upon History's leaves,
Like my own on the books of the City Police: --
Alexander, and Caesar, and other great robbers,
Who once tried to pocket the whole universe:
Not to speak of our own parliamentary jobbers,
With their hands, bless them all, in the popular purse!

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© 2000 Elena and Yacov Feldman