Beauty Betrayed

There was a time I once believed
That beauty was a woman's key
To happiness, but now I see
     That I was much deceived.

You see it all the time: the jewel
That sparkles rarest and most fine
Is captured by some Prince Divine
     Who turns into a troll.

We all know of some foolish girl
Who's beautiful, yet crassly vain,
Who needs to hear herself a queen
     And clings to a fantasy world.

But many ewe-eyed flowers bloom:
Modest, wise, intelligent,
But trusting too well men's intent
     Plunge swiftly to their doom.

How many stars have fallen thus?
How many kept their place on high?
How many lovers love a lie
     Which soon dissolves in dust?

It's they who choose, it might be said;
These ladies, they invite their fall.
By favoring style over soul,
     They make their fatal bed.

Too late, these beauties find their way
Has led them down the path of woe:
Impoverished, with child in tow,
     Alone, bereft, betrayed.

The primrose path becomes at last
A vale of sorrows, trail of tears,
And who shall comfort them in years
     When all their glory's passed?

On hearing of such things, I might
Have one day said their fate was just,
But now I see that they were lost
     As any child at night.

They're gentle, modest, practical dames,
These women who I've met of late:
Candles of grace, though time and fate
     Have darkened their fair flames.

One shined for me in sad, sad sweetness:
Elegant, blonde, and tall, a mother,
Devout, hard-working. How I loved her,
     Soft-haired gentle Venus!

"He was so charming. He pursued me
Six months. I was swept away.
We married, and I tried to play
     The perfect wife. My duty

I never questioned." Then she learned
Of his affairs with other women.
Still, she bore him two fine children
     And her fortunes turned

From bad to worse. Years later when
The kids were not yet teens, he found
A wealthy heiress, then skipped town
     And left them deep in debt.

And now she stands, a single mother,
Hardened with hurt and pressing on
With work and raising her daughter and son,
     And no time for another

Pursuit. And she is wary of men
And half her life has come and gone,
Its autumn blowing. Spring will come
     To warm her never again.

The deaths of Caesar or Macbeth,
And all of Hamlet's rueful trials
Could hardly serve to murder smiles
     And stifle happy breath

As this ill truth whose tragic play
Is played out manifold in life:
That Beauty is the scoundrel's wife
     Who's used, then thrown away.

George Chadderdon © 2000