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A non-fiction by Helen Rowland

The Rubaiyat Of A Bachelor

Title:     The Rubaiyat Of A Bachelor
Author: Helen Rowland [More Titles by Rowland]



WAKE! For the Spring has scattered into flight
The Vows of Lent, and bids the heart be light.
Bring on the Roast, and take the Fish away!
The Season calls--and Woman's eyes are bright!

BEFORE the phantom of Pale Winter died,
Methought the Voice of Spring within me cried,
"When Hymen's rose-decked altars glow within,
Why nods the laggard Bachelor outside?"

AND, at the Signal, I who stood before
In idle musing, shouted, "Say no more!
You know how little while we have to Love--
And Love's light Hand is knocking at the door!"

NOW, the New Moon reviving old desires,
The gallant Youth to Sentiment aspires;
And ere he saunters forth on conquest bent,
Himself, like unto Solomon, attires.

HOW blithely through the smiling throng he goes,
His Winter garments hung--where, no one knows!
A Symphony in radiant scarfs and hose,
Wrought t'inspire a maiden's "Ah's!" and "Oh's!"

INTO a new Flirtation, why not knowing,
Nor whence, his heart with madness overflowing;
Then out of it--and thence, without a pause,
Into another, willy-nilly blowing.

WHAT if the conscience feel, perchance, a sting?
No danger waits him--save the Wedding Ring.
A Kiss is not the sin that yesterday
It was--for that was Lent, and this is Spring!

SOME simple ones may sigh for wealth or fame,
And some, for the sweet Domestic Life, and tame;
But ah! give me a supper, a cigar,
A charming Woman--and the old Love-Game!

SOME blue points on the half-shell, in a row,
Some iced champagne, a melting bird--and Thou
Beside me flirting, 'neath a picture hat--
Oh, single life were Paradise enow!

A COZY-CORNER tete-a-tete--what bliss!
A murmured word, a sigh, a stolen kiss--
Ah, tell me, does the Promised Paradise
Hold anything one-half so sweet as this?

AND yet, since I am made of common clay,
One charm I'd add to this divine array;
Lord make me careful, and whate'er betide,
Without proposing, let me slip away!

FOR, some I've known, the bravest and the best,
Who laughed at Love, as but an idle jest,
Have, one by one, walked straight into the Net,
Helpless, before the Cozy Corner test!

THUS, oft, beside some damsel fond and fair,
I've sat, thrilled by the perfume of her hair,
And madly longed to murmur, lip-to-lip,
"Beloved, marry me!"--but did not dare!

FOR some I've wooed, when I felt blithe and gay,
Have looked so different, when we met next day,
That I have simply stopped to say, "So charmed!"
And shuddering, sped hurriedly away!

LOOK to the Married Men! Alas, their gains
Are neither here nor there, for all their pains.
For wedding bells are rung--and loudly rung
To drown the clanking of the Marriage Chains!

A MOMENT'S halt--a little word or two--
And you have done what you can ne'er undo;
Promised to pay a Woman's bills for life--
Anchored yourself--and there's an end of you!

AND we, who now make merry at the gloom
Of those who thus have gone to meet their doom--
May we, ourselves, not some day follow suit,
Ourselves to be the Butt of jests--for whom?

INDEED, 'tis better to have loved and lost--
Taken the Kiss and fled, at any cost,
Than to have loved and married, and for aye,
Thereafter, by a Woman, to be bossed.

WITH me, along that strip of Broadway strewn
With lovely maids, each radiant afternoon,
And think, of all the thousands you behold,
That you can marry one--and only one!

BUT, if the lip I kiss, the hand I press,
Upon the morrow seem to charm me less,
Ah well, am I not still a Bachelor,
And thus, entitled to--another Guess?

SOME for the comforts of a club may sigh,
And some for a hermit's lonely life. Not I!
Give me a cozy hearthside, and a Girl
Always "at home" when I chance by!

HER cushioned chair a spot where I may curl
My weary form, and rest, beyond the whirl
Of madd'ning cares; to rise at half-past ten,
And call next night--upon another girl!

WHY, if a man can thus, at ease, abide
Each evening by a different damsel's side,
Were't not a shame--were't not a shame, for him
To any one, forever to be tied?

AND so, the girls I've set my heart upon,
I've flattered, wooed a little--and anon,
Just as they thought to slip the fatal Noose
About my neck, behold--the Bird had flown!

FOR this the argument that I submit--
Refute it, if you can, with all your wit!
That Luck in Love, for such as you and I,
Consists in safely keeping out of it!

* * * * *

THIS morn, I've quaffed at least a quart or more
Of water--yet am thirsty as before;
And that dark taste still lingers in the mouth
With which, last night, I reformation swore.

YET, when some Angel, with a saving drink
Of iced Nepenthe comes, I shall not shrink;
But, having drunk of it, shall feel again
As good and noble as before, I think.

EACH morn some fresh repentance brings, you say?
Yes--but where leaves the vows of Yesterday?
For I shall make and break them all, again,
When Time hath taken this Headache away.

WHAT if my conscience seem an idle joke--
My good resolves all disappear in smoke?
This thought remains--and is it not enough?--
I do not wear the Matrimonial Yoke!

NAY! There is no one waiting at the door,
Whene'er I wander in at half-past four,
No one to question, no one to accuse,
No one, my shocking frailty to deplore!

NO one to greet me with her tear-stained eyes,
No one to doubt my quaint, fantastic lies,
No one my foolish looks to criticize--
Ah, but the knots, the KNOTS in marriage-ties!

OH Friend, could you and I, somehow, conspire,
To grasp the Matrimonial Scheme entire,
Would we not shatter it to bits--and then,
Make of its bonds a rousing Funeral Pyre?

MYSELF, when young, did eagerly frequent
The weddings of my friends on Bondage bent;
But evermore thanked Fate, when I escaped
Scot-free, by that same door wherein I went.

INTO the fatal compact, why not knowing,
I've seen them go, nor dream where they were going;
Then out again, with shouts of "Westward, ho!"
The bitter seeds of Alimony sowing!

AH well, they say that, sometimes, side by side,
A cat and dog may peacefully abide.
Perhaps--perhaps. But that is only when
That cat and dog are not together tied!

OFT, to some patient married man I turn,
The secret of his dumb content to learn,
But lip-to-ear, he mutters, "Fool, beware!
This is the path, whence there is no return!"

OH, threats of Hell, and hopes of Paradise!
One thing is certain--when a Husband dies,
No wife shall greet him there with "Where's" or "Why's"
Nor mock with laughter his most subtle lies!

NO matter whether up or down he goes,
He neither cares nor questions, I suppose;
Since Death can hold no bitterness for him,
Because--because--Oh well, he knows, HE KNOWS!

WOULD you the spangle of existence spend
In Matrimony? Slow about, my Friend!
A maiden's hair is more oft false than true,
And on the chemist may her blush depend.

A MAIDEN'S hair is more oft false than true!
Aye, and her Modiste is, perchance, the clue,
Could you but know it, to her sylph-like grace,
And, peradventure, to her Figure, too.

WHY, for this NOTHING, then, should you provoke
The gods, or lightly don the galling yoke
Of unpermitted pleasure, under pain
Of Alimony-until-Death, if broke?

WHY, when to-day your bills are promptly paid,
Assume the whims of some capricious maid,
Incur the debts you never did contract,
And yet must settle? Oh, the sorry trade!

TO "settle down and marry," oft of yore,
I swore--but was I sober when I swore?
And then there came another girl--and I
Turned gaily to the old Love-Game, once more.

AND, much as I repented things like this,
And fondly dreamed of sweet Domestic Bliss,
I sometimes wonder what a wife can give,
One half so thrilling as a stolen kiss!

YET, if the hair should vanish from my brow,
My girth, in time, to great dimensions grow--
If youth's sweet-scented "Buds" should pass me by,
Accounting me an antiquated beau--

WHY then, some winged angel, ere too late--
Some maiden verging onto twenty-eight--
Will gladly take what's left of me, I trow,
And, leading me to wedlock, thank her Fate!

* * * * *

ALAS, for those who may to-day prepare
The wedding trousseau for the morrow's wear,
A voice of warning cried, "There's many a slip
Betwixt the Altar and the Solitaire!"

INTO this pact, man glides like water flowing,
But out of it is not such easy going;
For they, who once were simple, guileless things,
In Breach-of-Promise lore are now more knowing.

WHAT! Would you cast a loving Woman hence?
Thou, Fickle One, prepare for penitence!
Full many a golden ducat shall you pay
To drown the memory of such insolence.

AND every note, that, in your cups, you write,
In cold black Type, perchance shall see the light;
While all the World, across its coffee urn,
Shall titter gaily at the sorry sight.

AH yes! For all the papers, which discussed
Your wedding plans, shall turn your cake to crust,
Publish your letters and your photographs,
And trail your Egotism in the dust!

THE Opera Queens, that men have wooed and won,
Have loved them for a while, and then--anon,
Like snow upon Broadway, with lightsome "touch,"
Annexed their millions, and alas, have flown!

OH look you, in the long and varied list
Of Millionaires thus rifled and dismissed,
How, rich man, after rich man, bode his hour,
Then went his way, to swell the golden grist.

WHAT Diva's rubies ever glow so red
As when some Gilded Chappie hath been bled?
And every diamond the Show Girl wears,
Dropped in her lap, when some Fool lost his head.

AND those who hung around the green-room door,
And those who backed the Show and paid the score,
Alike, to no such "Angels" have been turned,
As, once repentant, men feel sorry for.

OH, my Good Fellow, keep the cash, that clears
To-day of unpaid debts and future fears.
To-morrow! Why, to-morrow, you may be,
Yourself, with Yesterday's cast-off millionaires.

THEN, make the most of what you still may spend,
Ere you, too, into bankruptcy descend,
Bill upon bill, and under bill, to lie,
Sans Cash, sans Love, sans Lady--What an end!

* * * * *

WASTE not your evenings in the vain pursuit
Of this or that girl. Bittersweet the fruit!
Better be jocund with them, one and all,
And loving many, thus your love dilute.

SOME, with vivacity have sought to charm
Away my fears, and still my soul's alarm;
To win me subtly, with a smile or sigh,
Or sweet appealing touch upon the arm.

OTHERS have tempted me with festive cheer,
And Chafing-dish Concoctions, quaint and queer;
With dear, domestic airs have plied their arts--
Yet, all their wiles were neither there nor here!

BUT when Platonic Friendship they have tried,
Then, to the gods for Mercy, have I cried!
For, in the Husband-hunt, all other snares
Sink into Nothingness, this game beside!

THERE is the Trap, from which you may not flee;
There is the Net, through which no man may see.
Some jest at "love," some talk of "chums," and then,
Into the Consomme, for thee and me!

WHETHER to Church, or to the Magistrate,
You follow, after that, 'tis all too late!
For, from your Pipe-dream, you, at last, shall wake,
A MARRIED MAN, to rail in vain at Fate!

LOVE, but the Vision of a dear desire!
Marriage, the Ashes, whence has fled the fire!
Cast into chains which you, yourself, have forged!
Caught, like a sheep upon a stray barbed wire!

* * * * *

OH Thou, who first the Apple Tree didst shake,
And e'en in Eden flirted with the Snake,
Still, as in that first moment 'neath the Bough,
Dost thou, to-day, of Man a puppet make!

BUT this I know--whether the one True Mate,
Or just some Fluffy Thing with hook and bait,
Eve-like, tempt me--one flash of Common Sense,
And all her sorcery shall be too late!

THEN, let her never look for me, again;
For, once escaped, how many moons shall wane,
And wax and wane full oft, while still she looks
Down that same street--but ah, for ME, in vain!

YET, much as I have played the Infidel,
If, as the fated Pitcher to the Well,
Too oft to Love's empyrean Font I stray,
To fall, at last, beneath some Siren's spell,

THEN, in your mercy, Friend, forbear to smile,
And with the grape my last few hours beguile,
Or, let me in some Caravanserie,
My Cynic's soul to shackles reconcile.

AND when, with me, some fair, triumphant lass,
Up to the rose-decked Altar-Rail shall pass,
And, in her joyous errand, reach the spot,
Where we're made One--oh, drain a silent glass!

[The end]
Helen Rowland's Writings: The Rubaiyat Of A Bachelor