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Short poem

Amy Levy (1861-1889)

To Lallie
(Outside the British Museum)

              1UP those Museum steps you came,
              2And straightway all my blood was flame,
              3                        O Lallie, Lallie !

              4The world (I had been feeling low)
              5In one short moment's space did grow
              6                        A happy valley.

              7There was a friend, my friend, with you;
              8A meagre dame in peacock blue
              9                        Apparelled quaintly:

            10This poet-heart went pit-a-pat;
            11I bowed and smiled and raised my hat;
            12                        You nodded--faintly.

            13My heart was full as full could be;
            14You had not got a word for me,
            15                        Not one short greeting;

            16That nonchalant small nod you gave
            17(The tyrant's motion to the slave)
            18                        Sole mark'd our meeting.

            19Is it so long ? Do you forget
            20That first and last time that we met?
            21                        The time was summer.

            22The trees were green; the sky was blue;
            23Our host presented me to you--
            24                        A tardy comer.

            25You look'd demure, but when you spoke
            26You made a little, funny joke,
            27                        Yet half pathetic.

            28Your gown was grey, I recollect,
            29I think you patronized the sect
            30                        They call "æsthetic."

            31I brought you strawberries and cream,
            32And plied you long about a stream
            33                        With duckweed laden ;

            34We solemnly discussed the -- heat.
            35I found you shy and very sweet,
            36                        A rosebud maiden.

            37Ah me, to-day! You passed inside
            38To where the marble gods abide:
            39                        Hermes, Apollo,

            40Sweet Aphrodite, Pan; and where,
            41For aye reclined, a headless fair
            42                        Beats all fairs hollow.

            43And I, I went upon my way,
            44Well -- rather sadder, let us say;
            45                        The world looked flatter.

            46I had been sad enough before,
            47A little less, a little more,
            48                        What does it matter?


1] The main entrance of the British Museum faces Great Russell Street, London WC1. Set back in a great courtyard, visitors walk up a great flight of wide steps to its doors.

39] Hermes: messenger of the Greek gods.
Apollo: Greek god of music and poetry.

40] Aphrodite: Greek goddess of love.
Apollo: Greek shepherd god of pipes.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Amy Levy, A Minor Poet And other Verse, 2nd edn. (1884: London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1891), pp. 80-82. PR 4886 L25M5 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1884
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/1/23

Rhyme: aab ccb (repeating pairs of stanzas)

Other poems by Amy Levy