All Quiet along the Potomac and other poems/A Seat in the City Cars


FIVE o'clock!—getting late!—never mind it a bit;
I've a seat in the car, and here I will sit
Till my street is announced. I will, I declare!—
I have paid the half-dime—it is no more than fair.

I've been standing all day in the store and the street;
No rest for my limbs or the soles of my feet:
I am tired to death—would not budge for a king,
For an emperor, duke, or any such thing.

If a woman comes in— Why, they shouldn't try
For a seat in the cars when the evening is nigh.
"Be home before sunset," I tell Rosalie
(She's a wife for a pattern; she gets home at three).

They say, to be sure, "I can just as well stand,"
But they put up a weak little bit of a hand
In pursuit of a strap that they find is too high,
Settle down on their toes, and give up with a sigh.

Then they seem so unsteady, and waver about
When the cars with a jerk let a passenger out.
There's one getting in!—I won't look up at all,
But stare out of doors: she looks very small

Standing up in the crowd among those great men.
Her back is this way—I'll look once again.
'Tis a very nice back, and above and upon it,
With a curl peeping out, is a black velvet bonnet.

"Dear me! this is bad, then!"—Up goes the hand—
Not bigger than Rosie's—she hardly can stand.
I don't feel quite so tired; I said I'd sit still
In spite of temptations to come; and I will.

Well, I'm glad it ain't Rosie—she's not very strong;
A wee little woman, she couldn't stand long.
But stop! let me think; what if this one should be
To some other man what Rose is to me?

And how would I feel if some lazy boor
Should allow her to stand in the draft of the door?
I'm not tired a bit; I am fresh as can be—
"Here, madam, a seat."; "Oh, Fred!" "Rosalie!"