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Poems of Passion/The Duet

For works with similar titles, see Duet.

I was smoking a cigarette;
       Maud, my wife, and the tenor, McKey,
Were singing together a blithe duet,
And days it were better I should forget
       Came suddenly back to me—
Days when life seemed a gay masque ball,
And to love and be loved was the sum of it all.

As they sang together, the whole scene fled,
       The room's rich hangings, the sweet home air,
Stately Maud, with her proud blond head,
And I seemed to see in her place instead
       A wealth of blue-black hair,
And a face, ah! your face—yours, Lisette;
A face it were wiser I should forget.

We were back—well, no matter when or where;
       But you remember, I know, Lisette.
I saw you, dainty and debonair,
With the very same look that you used to wear
       In the days I should forget.
And your lips, as red as the vintage we quaffed,
Were pearl-edged bumpers of wine when you laughed.

Two small slippers with big rosettes
       Peeped out under your kilt skirt there,
While we sat smoking our cigarettes
(Oh, I shall be dust when my heart forgets')
       And singing that self-same an,
And between the verses, for interlude,
I kissed your throat and your shoulders nude.

You were so full of a subtle file,
       You were so warm and so sweet, Lisette;
You were everything men admire,
And there were no fetters to make us tire,
       For you were—a pretty grisette.
But you loved, as only such natures can,
With a love that makes heaven or hell for a man.


They have ceased singing that old duet,
       Stately Maud and the tenor, McKey.
"You are burning your coat with your cigarette,
And qu' avez vous, dearest, your lids are wet,"
       Maud says, as she leans o'er me.
And I smile, and lie to her, husband-wise,
"Oh, it is nothing but smoke in my eyes."


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1919, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 99 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.