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Poem by Henry Cuyler Bunner

Just a Love Letter

NEW YORK, July 20, 1883.

The town goes on as though
It thought you still were in it;
The gilded cage seems scarce to know
That it has lost its linnet.
The people come, the people pass;
The clock keeps on a-ticking;
And through the basement plots of grass
Persistent weeds are pricking.

I thought twould never come  the Spring 
Since you had left the city;
But on the snow-drifts lingering
At last the skies took pity.
Then Summers yellow warmed the sun,
Daily decreasing distance 
I really dont know how twas done
Without your kind assistance.

Aunt Van, of course, still holds the fort:
Ive paid the call of duty;
She gave me one small glass of port 
Twas 34 and fruity.
The furniture was draped in gloom
Of linen brown and wrinkled;
I smelt in spots about the room
The pungent camphor sprinkled.

I sat upon the sofa where
You sat and dropped your thimble 
You know  you said you didnt care;
But I was nobly nimble.
On hands and knees I dropped, and tried
To  well, I tried to miss it:
You slipped your hand down by your side 
You knew I meant to kiss it!

Aunt Van, I fear we put to shame
Propriety and precision;
But, praised be Love, that kiss just came
Beyond your line of vision.
Dear maiden aunt! the kiss, more sweet
Because tis surreptitious,
You never stretched a hand to meet,
So dimpled, dear, delicious.

I sought the Park last Saturday;
I found the Drive deserted;
The winter-trough beside the way
Sad and superfluous spurted.
I stood where Humboldt guards the gate,
Bronze, bumptious, stained, and streaky 
There sat a sparrow on his pate,
A sparrow chirp and cheeky.

Ten months ago! Ten months ago
It seems a happy second,
Against a life-time lone and slow,
By Loves wild time-piece reckoned 
You smiled, by Aunts protecting side,
Where thick the drags were massing,
On one young man who didnt ride,
But stood and watched you passing.

I haunt Purssells  to his amaze 
Not that I care to eat there,
But for the dear clandestine days
When we two had to meet there.
Oh, blessed is that bakers bake,
Past cavil and past question:
I ate a bun for your sweet sake,
And memory helped digestion.

The Norths are at their Newport ranch;
Van Brunt has gone to Venice;
Loomis invites me to the Branch,
And lures me with lawn tennis.
O bustling barracks by the sea!
O spiles, canals, and islands!
Your varied charms are naught to me 
My heart is in the Highlands!

My paper trembles in the breeze
That all too faintly flutters
Among the dusty city trees,
And through my half-closed shutters:
A northern captive in the town,
Its native vigor deadened,
I hope that, as it wandered down,
Your dear pale cheek it reddened.

Ill write no more! A vis-a-vis
In halcyon vacation
Will sure afford a much more free
Mode of communication.
Im tantalized and cribbed and checked
In making love by letter:
I know a style more brief, direct 
And generally better!

Henry Cuyler Bunner

Henry Cuyler Bunner's other poems:
  1. In a Paris Restaurant
  2. The Future of the Classics
  3. Shriven
  4. Candor
  5. The Chaperon

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