Thomas Bailey Aldrich

Here you will find the Poem An Elective Course of poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich

An Elective Course


The bloom that lies on Fanny's cheek 
Is all my Latin, all my Greek; 
The only sciences I know 
Are frowns that gloom and smiles that glow; 
Siberia and Italy 
Lie in her sweet geography; 
No scolarship have I but such 
As teaches me to love her much.

Why should I strive to read the skies, 
Who know the midnight of her eyes? 
Why should I go so very far 
To learn what heavenly bodies are! 
Not Berenice's starry hair 
With Fanny's tresses can compare; 
Not Venus on a cloudless night, 
Enslaving Science with her light, 
Ever reveals so much as when 
She stares and droops her lids again.

If Nature's secrets are forbidden 
To mortals, she may keep them hidden. 
Æons and æons we progressed 
And did not let that break our rest; 
Little we cared if Mars o'erhead 
Were or were not inhabited; 
Without the aid of Saturn's rings 
Fair girls were wived in those fair springs; 
Warm lips met ours, and conquered us 
Or ere thou wert, Copernicus!

Graybeards, who wish to bridge the chasm 
'Twixt man to-day and protoplasm, 
Who theorize and probe and gape, 
And finally evolve an ape-- 
Yours is a harmless sort of cult, 
If you are pleased with the result. 
Some folks admit, with cynic grace, 
That you have rather proved your case. 
Those dogmatists are so severe! 
Enough for me that Fanny's here, 
Enough that, having survived 
Pre-Eveic forms, she has arrived-- 
An illustration the completest 
Of the survival of the sweetest.

Linnæus aveunt! I only care 
To know what flower she wants to wear. 
I leave it to the addle-pated 
To guess how pinks originated, 
As if it mattered! The chief thing 
Is that we have them in the Spring, 
And Fanny likes them. When they come, 
I straightaway send and purchase some. 
The Origin of Plants--go to! 
Their proper end I have in view.

O loveliest book that ever man 
Looked into since the world began 
Is Woman! As I turn those pages, 
As fresh as in the primal ages, 
As day by day I scan, perplext, 
The ever subtly changing text, 
I feel that I am slowly growing 
To think no other work worth knowing. 
And in my copy--there is none 
So perfect as the one I own-- 
I find no thing set down as such 
As teaches me to love it much.