Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
III. Love’s Beginnings
The Telltale
Elizabeth Akers Allen (1832–1911)
ONCE, on a golden afternoon,
With radiant faces and hearts in tune,
    Two fond lovers in dreaming mood
    Threaded a rural solitude.
Wholly happy, they only knew        5
That the earth was bright and the sky was blue,
    That light and beauty and joy and song
    Charmed the way as they passed along:
The air was fragrant with woodland scents;
The squirrel frisked on the roadside fence;        10
    And hovering near them, “Chee, chee, chink?”
    Queried the curious bobolink,
Pausing and peering with sidelong head,
As saucily questioning all they said;
    While the ox-eye danced on its slender stem,        15
    And all glad nature rejoiced with them.
Over the odorous fields were strown
Wilting windrows of grass new-mown,
    And rosy billows of clover bloom
    Surged in the sunshine and breathed perfume.        20
Swinging low on a slender limb,
The sparrow warbled his wedding hymn,
    And, balancing on a blackberry-brier,
    The bobolink sung with his heart on fire,—
“Chink? If you wish to kiss her, do!        25
Do it, do it! You coward, you!
    Kiss her! Kiss, kiss her! Who will see?
    Only we three! we three! we three!”
Under garlands of drooping vines,
Through dim vistas of sweet-breathed pines,        30
    Past wide meadow-fields, lately mowed,
    Wandered the indolent country road.
The lovers followed it, listening still,
And, loitering slowly, as lovers will,
    Entered a low-roofed bridge that lay,        35
    Dusky and cool, in their pleasant way.
Under its arch a smooth, brown stream
Silently glided, with glint and gleam,
    Shaded by graceful elms that spread
    Their verdurous canopy overhead,—        40
The stream so narrow, the boughs so wide,
They met and mingled across the tide.
    Alders loved it, and seemed to keep
    Patient watch as it lay asleep,
Mirroring clearly the trees and sky        45
And the flitting form of the dragon-fly,
    Save where the swift-winged swallow played
    In and out in the sun and shade,
And darting and circling in merry chase,
Dipped and dimpled its clear dark face.        50
Fluttering lightly from brink to brink
Followed the garrulous bobolink,
    Rallying loudly, with mirthful din,
    The pair who lingered unseen within.
And when from the friendly bridge at last        55
Into the road beyond they passed,
    Again beside them the tempter went,
    Keeping the thread of his argument:—
“Kiss her! kiss her! chink-a-chee-chee!
I ’ll not mention it! Don’t mind me!        60
    I ’ll be sentinel—I can see
    All around from this tall birch-tree!”
But ah! they noted—nor deemed it strange—
In his rollicking chorus a trifling change:
    “Do it! do it!” with might and main        65
    Warbled the telltale—“Do it again!”

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