Eos: An Epic of the Dawn, and Other Poems

By Nicholas Flood Davin


 

THE CHARITABLE NIGHT SHIRT.


 

I once went far to see
    Some maids with whom I might flirt;
They were bent on charity,
    And proposed to make a night shirt,

For the good of some good cause,
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    Orphans or such weak chickens;
I’d have ordered without pause,
    If the cause were at the dickens.

I called again—to know
    Of that work my ears were itchin’,
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When the ladies, quite aglow,
    Told me all about the stitchin’.

How ’twas cut out by one,
    Its full length undiminished,
How the gussets they were done,
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    And how the whole was finished.

The coals were waxing low,
    And fainter the flames’ flashes;
Like my hot youth’s fervid glow,
    What was once fire now was ashes.
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I began to scratch my head,
    Like some posed and puzzled varmint—
And I thought, I’ll go to bed,
    And try on the new garment. [Page 113]

Scarce got beneath the clothes,
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    My hand beneath my head, sir,
Fixed for a night’s repose—
    When I sprang clean out of bed, sir.

What was wrong? O patience please—
    Every fibre was a-twitchin’;
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Those gussets stung like bees,
    And like wasps the dainty stitchin’.

To pull if off I tried,
    But it hugg’d me close, oppressive;
And, while struggling, I espied
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    A sweet face most expressive;

And a form! –I think, I swore
    I ne’er saw aught so splendid—
She but said: “You’ll sleep no more,
    Your nights of rest are ended.”
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And she smiled—gods! how she smiled!
    And how her black eyes glistened!
From my pangs I was beguiled,
    As to that voice I listened.

I stooped to kiss her hand,
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    White as milk fresh from a dairy,
She drew back with curtsy bland,
    And then vanish’d like a fairy.

And now I never sleep,
    And I’m tortur’d as I told, sir,
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And I think I sometimes weep,
    With longing to behold her; [Page 114]

But from her I’m exiled,
    That maid with face bewitchin’;
And the gussets drive me wild,
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    And I’m madden’d by the stitchin’. [Page 115]