The lady at the corner wicket
Sold me a stamp, I stooped to lick it,
And on the envelope to stick it;
A spinster lacking girlish grace,
Yet sweetly sensitive, her face
Seemed to en-star that stodgy place.
Said I: "I've come from o'er the sea
To ask you if you'll marry me -
That is to say, if you are free.
I see your gentle features freeze;
'I do not like such jokes as these,'
You seem to say .
Have patience, please.
I saw you twenty years ago;
Just here you sold me stamps, and Oh
Your image seemed to haunt me so.
For you were lovely as a rose,
But I was poor, and I suppose
At me you tilted dainty nose.
Ah, well I knew love could not be,
So sought my fortune o'er the sea,
Deeming that you were lost to me.
Of sailing ships a mate was I,
From oriental ports to ply .
Ten years went past of foreign sky.
But always in the starry night
I steered my course with you in sight,
My dream of you a beacon light.
Then after a decade had sped
I cam again: 'What luck? I said,
'Will she be here and free to wed?'
Oh it was on a morn of Spring,
And I had in my purse a ring
I bought in Eastern voyaging,
With thought of you and only you;
For I to my love dream was true .
And here you were, your eyes of blue.
The same sun shining on your brow
Lustered you hair as it does now,
My heart was standing still, I vow.
I bought a stamp, my eyes were bent
Upon a ring you wore - I went
Away as if indifferent.
Again I sailed behind the mast,
And yet your image held me fast,
For once again ten years have passed.
And I am bronzed with braid of gold;
The rank of Captain now I hold,
And fifty are my years all told.
Yet still I have that ruby ring
I bought for you that morn of Spring -
See, here it is, a pretty thing.
But now you've none upon your finger;
Why? I don't know - but as I linger
I'm thinking : Oh what can I bring her.
Who all my life have ploughed the ocean,
A lonely man with one devotion -
Just you? Ah, if you'd take the notion
To try the thing you ought to wear,
It fits so well.
Do leave it there.
And here's a note addressed to you.
Ah yes, quite strangers are we two,
But - well, please answer soon .
* * * * * * * * * *
Oh no, you never more will see
Her selling stamps at Wicket Three:
Queen of my home, she's pouring tea.
Top Robert William Service Poems