If you knew my heart, oh woman,
Would you be so kind?
It is a heart which has never known love,
Which holds all affection under suspicion.
I do not carry myself well
How artless I am in the ways of guile!
For you must indeed know
That I want only all or none of you,
For I have most of what I need
Except that which I would have you give me.
Oh, I have given once,
But what is giving when it comes to naught?
You throw a penny in a fountain and hope for the best,
But I am out of pennies, and you bore me.
This only happens to me when I think of you
Never is my despair greater than when I catch the scent
Of perfumes and flowers, and glimpse
The sweep of skirts and flowing hair
I, an old man, with keen, perceptive eyes,
And sick with a grave nausea which confounds all sleep.
I see through you all,
Your petty ambitions,
Your drawing-room pretensions,
Your gossips and intrigues.
You cheat at your little games, but you play for pennies,
While men cast lots for blood.
Oh, woe of my frail body, that I cannot
Wear a sword and march through smoke and cannon-fire,
A lion of the field, golden and fearless!
You would love me then, wouldn't you!
It is strange, isn't it,
How often one only loves what one is not.
George Chadderdon © 1995