Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
 
Epithalamium
By Edward Sandford Martin (1856–1939)
 
THE MARRIAGE bells have rung their peal,
  The wedding march has told its story.
I’ve seen her at the altar kneel
  In all her stainless, virgin glory;
She’s bound to honor, love, obey,        5
  Come joy or sorrow, tears or laughter.
I watched her as she rode away,
  And flung the lucky slipper after.
 
She was my first, my very first,
  My earliest inamorata,        10
And to the passion that I nursed
  For her I well-nigh was a martyr.
For I was young, and she was fair,
  And always bright and gay and chipper,
And, oh, she wore such sunlit hair:        15
  Such silken stockings! such a slipper!
 
She did not wish to make me mourn—
  She was the kindest of God’s creatures;
But flirting was in her inborn,
  Like brains and queerness in the Beechers.        20
I do not fear your heartless flirt—
  Obtuse her dart and dull her probe is;
But when girls do not mean to hurt,
  But do—Orate tunc pro nobis!
 
A most romantic country place;        25
  The moon at full, the month of August;
An inland lake across whose face
  Played gentle zephyrs, ne’er a raw gust.
Books, boats, and horses to enjoy,
  The which was all our occupation;        30
A damsel and a callow boy—
  There! now you have the situation.
 
We rode together miles and miles,
  My pupil she, and I her Chiron;
At home I reveled in her smiles        35
  And read her extracts out of Byron.
We roamed by moonlight, chose our stars
  (I thought it most authentic billing),
Explored the woods, climbed over bars,
  Smoked cigarettes and broke a shilling.        40
 
An infinitely blissful week
  Went by in this Arcadian fashion;
I hesitated long to speak,
  But ultimately breathed my passion.
She said her heart was not her own;        45
  She said she’d love me like a sister;
She cried a little (not alone);
  I begged her not to fret, and—kissed her.
 
I lost some sleep, some pounds in weight,
  A deal of time, and all my spirits,        50
And much—how much I dare not state—
  I mused upon that damsel’s merits.
I tortured my unhappy soul,
  I wished I never might recover;
I hoped her marriage bells might toll        55
  A requiem for her faithful lover.
 
And now she’s married, now she wears
  A wedding-ring upon her finger;
And I—although it odd appears—
  Still in the flesh I seem to linger.        60
Lo, there my swallow-tail, and here
  Lies by my side a wedding favor;
Beside it stands a mug of beer,
  I taste it—how divine its flavor!
 
I saw her in her bridal dress        65
  Stand pure and lovely at the altar;
I heard her firm response—that “Yes,”
  Without a quiver or a falter.
And here I sit and drink to her
  Long life and happiness, God bless her!        70
Now fill again. No heel-taps, sir;
  Here’s to—Success to her successor!
 
 
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