Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Here you will find the Long Poem Recollections Of A Faded Beauty of poet Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Recollections Of A Faded Beauty

AH! I remember when I was a girl 
How my hair naturally used to curl, 
And how my aunt four yards of net would pucker, 
And call the odious thing, 'Diana's tucker.' 
I hated it, because although, you see, 
It did for her, it didn't do for me. 
(Popkins said I should wear a low corsage, 
But this I know was merely badinage.) 
I recollect the gaieties of old-- 
Ices when hot, and punch when we were cold! 
Race-balls, and county-balls, and balls where you, 
For seven shillings, got dance and supper too. 
Oh! I remember all the routs and plays-- 
'But words are idle,' as Lord Byron says; 
And so am I, and therefore can spare time, 
To put my recollections into rhyme. 
I recollect the man who did declare 
When I was at the fair, myself was fair: 
(I had it in my album for three years, 
And often looked, and shed delicious tears.) 
I didn't fall in love, however, then, 
Because I never saw that man again. 
And I remember Popkins--ah! too well! 
And all who once in love with Chloë fell. 
They called me Chloë for they said my grace 
Was nymph-like; as was also half my face. 
My mouth was wide, but then I had a smile 
Which might a demon of its tears beguile.-- 
As Captain Popkins said, or rather swore, 
He liked me, (ah! my Popkins!) all the more. 
He couldn't bear a little mouth, for when 
It laughed, 'twas like a long slit in a pen; 
Or button-hole stretched on too big a button; 
Or little cut for gravy in boiled mutton. 
(Popkins was clever)--but I must proceed 
More regularly, that my friends may read. 
I didn't marry, for I couldn't get 
A man I liked; I havn't got one yet; 
But I had handsome lovers by the score: 
Alas! alas! I always sighed for more. 

First came young Minton, of the ninth Hussars, 
His eyes were bright and twinkling as the stars. 
There was, indeed, a little little cast, 
But he assured me that it would not last; 
And only came, when he, one cold bivouac, 
Gazed on the foe, and could not turn it back-- 
The chill was so intense! Poor Minton, I 
Really did think he certainly would die. 
He gave me of himself a little print; 
The painter did not see or heed the squint. 
Squint it was not--but one eye sought the other 
With tenderness, as 'twere a young twin brother. 
He gave it, and he sighed: oh! often after 
The memory of that sigh hath chill'd my laughter. 
I'm sure I might have married him, but then 
I never did enough encourage men: 
And somehow he made love to Anna Budge; 
I never owed the ugly minx a grudge, 
Though, God knows, she was cross and plain enough. 
The things he us'd to say to her--such stuff! 

Then came young Frederic Mortimer de Veaux: 
A cruel, faithless wretch, that work'd me woe. 
But such a man! so tall, so straight--he took 
A lady's heart away at every look. 
Such a hooked nose, such loads of curly hair-- 
Such a pale, wild, intense, Byronic air; 
And his whole soul, (as he himself has said,) 
'Wandering about among the mighty dead.' 
He had read books, and rather liked to show it, 
And always spoke like an inspired poet. 
Last time we met, my heart prophetic drew 
A mournful omen from his wild adieu: 
I wrote it down, when he had closed the door. 
All I remembered--would it had been more!-- 
'Allah hu! shall I ever behold thee again, 
Sweet cause of my transport--dear cause of my pain? 
Al, hamdu il Illah! what place can be fair, 
My Rose of the Desert, if thou art not there? 
Yet I go--for stern duty compels me to do so-- 
From the world where my heart is, like far-banished Crusoe. 
Gul's gardens invite me, but Fate says, depart, 
Bismillah! farewell, young Haidee of my heart!' 
Was it not beautiful? it was--ah, me!-- 
Who would have thought such lips could traitors be? 
Who could have thought, who saw his bright eye burn, 
He spoke--intending never to return? 

Then Mr. Humley asked aunt's leave to wed, 
And winked, and asked if love was in my head, 
Or heart; and then proceeding things to settle, 
(Helping my aunt the while to lift the kettle,)-- 
Said, 'you shall have a cozy home, my dear, 
And fifty pounds (to buy you clothes) a year. 
And we must get your aunt, or some kind fairy 
To teach you how to churn and mind the dairy.' 
'A cozy home!' why, did one ever hear 
Of such a man? and, to call me 'my dear:' 
Me--I was Frederick Mortimer's heart's Haidee; 
Young Minton's star of hope and gladness--me! 
But I refused him; though my aunt did say 
'That it was an advantage thrown away;'-- 
(He an advantage!)--'that she'd make me rue it-- 
Make me a nun--' I'd like to see her do it! 
Down, down, rebellious heart! I am a nun, 
At least, the same as if I had been one. 
I do repent I thought myself too comely; 
I do repent I am not Mrs. Humley!