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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Leaf from Life

By Frederick Swartwout Cozzens (1818–1869)

I LENT my love a book one day;

She brought it back, I laid it by;

’Twas little either had to say—

She was so strange, and I so shy.

But yet we loved indifferent things—

The sprouting buds, the birds in tune;

And Time stood still and wreathed his wings

With rosy links from June to June.

For her, what task to dare or do?

What peril tempt? What hardship bear?

But with her—ah! she never knew

My heart and what was hidden there!

And she, with me so cold and coy,

Seemed like a maid bereft of sense!

But in the crowd all life and joy,

And full of blushing impudence.

She married!—well, a woman needs

A mate, her life and love to share—

And little cares sprang up like weeds,

And played around her elbow-chair.

And years rolled by, but I, content,

Trimmed my own lamp, and kept it bright,

Till age’s touch my hair besprent

With rays and gleams of silver light.

And then, it chanced, I took the book

Which she perused in days gone by;

And as I read such passion shook

My soul!—I needs must curse or cry.

For here and there her love was writ

In old, half-faded pencil-signs,

As if she yielded—bit by bit—

Her heart in dots and underlines.

Ah! silvered fool!—too late you look!

I know it: let me here record

This maxim: Lend no girl a book

Unless you read it afterward.