March 27, 2013

She April-fooled me years ago!

Eugene Field wrote his poem "April Fool" a few days shy of the titular date: It was dated March 27, 1884. In his usual tongue-in-cheek way, the Missouri-born humorist sets up his reader before twisting his/her expectations:

Fair was her young and girlish face,
   Her lips were luscious red as wine;
Her willowy form betrayed a grace
   That seemed to me to be divine.
One evening at the trysting-place
   I asked this maiden to be mine.
Unhappy, thrice-unhappy youth
   Was I to court the crushing blow;
But why delay the awful truth—
   She April-fooled me years ago!

Filled with a ghastly, grim dismay
   As kneeling at her feet I heard
This fair but cruel angel say
   That last, unhappy, severing word,
I fluttered hopelessly away
   Like some forlorn and stricken bird.
For years I played the cynic's part,
   For years I nursed my secret woe;
And this reflection galled my heart—
   She April-fooled me years ago!

But she is forty now, and fat,
   And vanished all her graces are:
And many a lusty, brawling brat
   Pulls at her skirts and calls her "ma,"
And I have information that
   Her horrid husband tends a bar.
And when I see that fleeting years
   Have changed my quondam angel so,
I thank my stars, 'mid grateful tears,
   She April-fooled me years ago!

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