My wife and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary at the Dakota. While she was putting the baby to sleep I went online to look for a love poem. But then I got distracted and started writing something about aesthetic refinement. This led me to Bob Dylan’s new album Modern Times. Some people think Dylan stole lyrics from Henry Timrod (b.1828) – the ‘poet laurete of the Confederacy’. Suzanne Vega disagrees. I don’t really care. I was just happy to find a compilation of all of Timrod’s poem’s online, for free. I even found one that is perfect for my anniversary. Too bad my wife fell asleep two hours ago.
A Year’s Courtship
By Henry Timrod
I saw her, Harry, first, in March —
You know the street that leadeth down
By the old bridge’s crumbling arch? —
Just where it leaves the dusty town
A lonely house stands grim and dark —
You’ve seen it? then I need not say
How quaint the place is — did you mark
An ivied window? Well! one day,
I, chasing some forgotten dream,
And in a poet’s idlest mood,
Caught, as I passed, a white hand’s gleam —
A shutter opened — there she stood
Training the ivy to its prop.
Two dark eyes and a brow of snow
Flashed down upon me — did I stop? —
She says I did — I do not know.
But all that day did something glow
Just where the heart beats; frail and slight,
A germ had slipped its shell, and now
Was pushing softly for the light.
And April saw me at her feet,
Dear month of sunshine and of rain!
My very fears were sometimes sweet,
And hope was often touched with pain.
For she was frank, and she was coy,
A willful April in her ways;
And in a dream of doubtful joy
I passed some truly April days.
May came, and on that arch, sweet mouth,
The smile was graver in its play,
And, softening with the softening South,
My April melted into May.
She loved me, yet my heart would doubt,
And ere I spoke the month was June —
One warm still night we wandered out
To watch a slowly setting moon.
Something which I saw not — my eyes
Were not on heaven — a star, perchance,
Or some bright drapery of the skies,
Had caught her earnest, upper glance.
And as she paused — Hal! we have played
Upon the very spot — a fir
Just touched me with its dreamy shade,
But the full moonlight fell on her —
And as she paused — I know not why —
I longed to speak, yet could not speak;
The bashful are the boldest — I —
I stooped and gently kissed her cheek.
A murmur (else some fragrant air
Stirred softly) and the faintest start —
O Hal! we were the happiest pair!
O Hal! I clasped her heart to heart!
And kissed away some tears that gushed;
But how she trembled, timid dove,
When my soul broke its silence, flushed
With a whole burning June of love.
Since then a happy year hath sped
Through months that seemed all June and May,
And soon a March sun, overhead,
Will usher in the crowning day.
Twelve blessed moons that seemed to glow
All summer, Hal! — my peerless Kate!
She is the dearest — “Angel?” — no!
Thank God! — but you shall see her — wait.
So all is told! I count on thee
To see the Priest, Hal! Pass the wine!
Here’s to my darling wife to be!
And here’s to — when thou find’st her — thine!