I'm waiting for the man I hope to wed.
I've never seen him - that's the funny part.
I promised I would wear a rose of red,
Pinned on my coat above my fluttered heart,
So that he'd know me - a precaution wise,
Because I wrote him I was twenty-three,
And Oh such heaps and heaps of silly lies. . .
So when we meet what will he think of me?
It's funny, but it has its sorry side;
I put an advert. in the evening Press:
"A lonely maiden fain would be a bride."
Oh it was shameless of me, I confess.
But I am thirty-nine and in despair,
Wanting a home and children ere too late,
And I forget I'm no more young and fair -
I'll hide my rose and run...No, no, I'll wait.
An hour has passed and I am waiting still.
I ought to feel relieved, but I'm so sad.
I would have liked to see him, just to thrill,
And sigh and say: "There goes my lovely lad!
My one romance!" Ah, Life's malign mishap!
"Garcon, a cafè creme." I'll stay till nine. . .
The cafè's empty, just an oldish chap
Who's sitting at the table next to mine. . .
I'm waiting for the girl I mean to wed.
She was to come at eight and now it's nine.
She'd pin upon her coat a rose of red,
And I would wear a marguerite in mine.
No sign of her I see...It's true my eyes
Need stronger glasses than the ones I wear,
But Oh I feel my heart would recognize
Her face without the rose - she is so fair.
Ah! what deceivers are we aging men!
What vanity keeps youthful hope aglow!
Poor girl! I sent a photo taken when
I was a student, twenty years ago.
(Hers is so Springlike, Oh so blossom sweet!)
How she will shudder when she sees me now!
I think I'd better hide that marguerite -
How can I age and ugliness avow?
She does not come. It's after nine o'clock.
What fools we fogeys are! I'll try to laugh;
(Garcon, you might bring me another bock)
Falling in love, just from a photograph.
Well, that's the end. I'll go home and forget,
Then realizing I am over ripe
I'll throw away this silly cigarette
And philosophically light my pipe.
* * * * *
The waiter brought the coffee and the beer,
And there they sat, so woe-begone a pair,
And seemed to think: "Why do we linger here?"
When suddenly they turned, to start and stare.
She spied a marguerite, he glimpsed a rose;
Their eyes were joined and in a flash they knew. . .
The sleepy waiter saw, when time to close,
The sweet romance of those deceiving two,
Whose lips were joined, their hearts, their future too.
Robert William Service