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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


A Devonshire Lane

By John Marriott

A Simile

IN a Devonshire lane, as I trotted along

T’ other day, much in want of a subject for song,

Thinks I to myself I have hit on a strain,—

Sure marriage is much like a Devonshire lane.

In the first place ’t is long, and when once you are in it,

It holds you as fast as the cage holds a linnet;

For howe’er rough and dirty the road may be found,

Drive forward you must, since there ’s no turning round.

But though ’t is so long, it is not very wide,—

For two are the most that together can ride;

And even then ’t is a chance but they get in a pother,

And jostle and cross and run foul of each other.

Oft Poverty greets them with mendicant looks,

And Care pushes by them o’erladen with crooks,

And Strife’s grating wheels try between them to pass,

Or Stubbornness blocks up the way on her ass.

Then the banks are so high, both to left hand and right,

That they shut up the beauties around from the sight;

And hence you ’ll allow,—’t is an inference plain,—

That marriage is just like a Devonshire lane.

But, thinks I too, these banks within which we are pent,

With bud, blossom, and berry are richly besprent;

And the conjugal fence which forbids us to roam

Looks lovely, when decked with the comforts of home.

In the rock’s gloomy crevice the bright holly grows,

The ivy waves fresh o’er the withering rose,

And the ever-green love of a virtuous wife

Smooths the roughness of care, cheers the winter of life.

Then long be the journey and narrow the way!

I ’ll rejoice that I ’ve seldom a turnpike to pay;

And, whate’er others think, be the last to complain,

Though marriage is just like a Devonshire lane.