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James Kenneth Stephen (1859-1892)

After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)


1. The husband's
              1She's not a faultless woman; no!
              2  She's not an angel in disguise:
              3She has her rivals here below:
              4  She's not an unexampled prize:

              5She does not always see the point
              6  Of little jests her husband makes:
              7And, when the world is out of joint,
              8  She makes a hundred small mistakes:

              9She's not a miracle of tact:
            10  Her temper's not the best I know:
            11She's got her little faults in fact,
            12  Although I never tell her so.

            13But this, my wife, is why I hold you
            14  As good a wife as ever stepped,
            15And why I meant it when I told you
            16  How cordially our feast I kept:

            17You've lived with me these fifty years,
            18  And all the time you loved me dearly:
            19I may have given you cause for tears:
            20  I may have acted rather queerly.

            21I ceased to love you long ago:
            22  I loved another for a season:
            23As time went on I came to know
            24  Your worth, my wife: and saw the reason

            25Why such a wife as you have been
            26  Is more than worth the world beside;
            27You loved me all the time, my Queen;
            28  You couldn't help it if you tried.

            29You loved me as I once loved you,
            30  As each loved each beside the altar:
            31And whatsoever I might do,
            32  Your loyal heart could never falter.

            33And, if you sometimes fail me, sweetest,
            34  And don't appreciate me, dear,
            35No matter: such defects are meetest
            36  For poor humanity, I fear.

            37And all's forgiven, all's forgot,
            38  On this our golden wedding day;
            39For, see! she loves me: does she not?
            40  So let the world e'en go its way.

            41I'm old and nearly useless now,
            42  Each day a greater weakling proves me:
            43There's compensation anyhow:
            44  I still possess a wife that loves me.

2. The wife's
              1Dear worthy husband! good old man!
              2  Fit hero of a golden marriage:
              3I'll show towards you, if I can,
              4  And absolutely wifely carriage.

              5The months or years which your career
              6  May still comprise before you perish,
              7Shall serve to prove that I, my dear,
              8  Can honour, and obey, and cherish.

              9Till death us part, as soon he must,
            10  (And you, my dear, should shew the way)
            11I hope you'll always find me just
            12  The same as on our wedding day.

            13I never loved you, dearest: never!
            14  Let that be clearly understood:
            15I thought you good, and rather clever,
            16  And found you really rather good.

            17And, what was more, I loved another,
            18  But couldn't get him: well, but, then
            19You're just as bad, my erring brother,
            20  You most impeccable of men:--

            21Except for this: my love was married
            22  Some weeks before I married you:
            23While you, my amorous dawdler, tarried
            24  Till we'd been wed a year or two.

            25You loved me at our wedding: I
            26  Loved some one else: and after that
            27I never cast a loving eye
            28  On others: you -- well, tit for tat!

            29But after all I made you cheerful:
            30  Your whims I've humoured: saw the point
            31Of all your jokes: grew duly tearful,
            32  When you were sad, yet chose the joint

            33You liked the best of all for dinner,
            34  And soothed you in your hours of woe:
            35Although a miserable sinner,
            36  I am a good wife, as wives go.

            37I bore with you and took your side,
            38  And kept my temper all the time:
            39I never flirted; never cried,
            40  No ranked it as a heinous crime,

            41When you preferred another lady,
            42  Or used improper words to me,
            43Or told a story more than shady,
            44  Or snored and snorted after tea,

            45Or otherwise gave proofs of being
            46  A dull and rather vain old man:
            47I still succeeded in agreeing
            48  With all you said, (the safest plan),

            49Yet always strove my point to carry,
            50  And make you do as I desired:
            51I'm glad my people made me marry!
            52  They hit on just what I required.

            53Had love been wanted - well, I couldn't
            54  Have given what I'd not to give;
            55Or had a genius asked me! wouldn't
            56The man have suffered? now, we live

            57Among our estimable neighbours
            58  A decent and decorous life:
            59I've earned by my protracted labours
            60  The title of a model wife.

            61But when beneath the turf you're sleeping,
            62  And I'm sitting here in black,
            63Engaged, as they'll suppose, in weeping,
            64  I shall not wish to have you back.

3. The Vicar's
              1A good old couple! kind and wise!
              2  And oh! what love for one another!
              3They've won, those two, life's highest prize,
              4  Oh! let us copy them, my brother.


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: J. K. Stephen, Quo Musa Tendis? (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891), pp. 44-49. PR 5473 S4Q8 1891 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1891
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/6

Rhyme: abbaabbaccdbbd


Other poems by James Kenneth Stephen