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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO A CITY COUSIN ABOUT TO BE MARRIED, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Is it true, what they tell me, my beautiful cousin
Last Line: "and husbands exclaiming, ""I envy the man!"
Subject(s): Marriage; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


Is it true, what they tell me, my beautiful cousin,
You are going to be married? -- have settled the day?
That the cards are all printed? -- the wedding-dress chosen? --
And everything fixed for an evening in May?
Ah -- well! -- just imagine, -- had I been a Turk,
And you -- but, no matter, -- 't is idle to whine;
In the purest of bosoms some envy may lurk,
And I feel a little (I own it!) in mine!

'T is over! -- the struggle was but for a minute;
And now let me give you, dear cousin, I pray,
A word of advice, -- if there's anything in it,
Accept it; if not, you can throw it away.
An excellent maxim is "crede experto";
Which means (since your Latin I venture to doubt)
For practical wisdom 't is best to refer to
A teacher who knows what he's talking about.

C'est moi! I've been married this many a year;
And know rather more than a bachelor can,
And more -- I suppose it is equally clear --
Than a very young wife or a new-married man.
Of course there'll be matters to worry and vex,
But woman is mighty, and Patience endures;
And ours -- recollect -- is the (much) "softer sex,"
Though we (not very gallantly) say it of yours!

The strong should be merciful! Woman we find,
Though weaker in body, surpassing us still
In virtue; and strong -- very strong in her mind,
(When she knows what it is!) -- not to mention her will.
Be gentle! How hard you will find it to bear
When your husband is wrong; and as difficult, quite,
In the other contingency, -- not at all rare, --
When you're forced, in your heart, to confess he was right!

Be careful of trifles: a maxim of weight
In questions affecting the heart or the head;
In wedlock, consider how often the fate
Of the gravest affairs may depend on a thread.
On a button perhaps! Ah! the "conjugal tie"
Should never be strained to its ultimate test;
Full many a matron has found, with a sigh,
That the fixture was barely a button, at best!

A truce to our jesting. While friends by the dozen
Their kind gratulations are fain to employ;
None more than your poet -- your mirth-loving cousin --
Puts his heart in the words while he's "wishing you joy."
Quite through to its close may your conjugal life
Maintain the impressions with which it began;
The women still saying, "I envy the wife,"
And husbands exclaiming, "I envy the man!"






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