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Infelice by Stevie Smith

August 09, 1987

\o7 Walking swiftly with a dreadful duchess,

He smiled too briefly, his face was as pale as sand,

He jumped into a taxi when he saw me coming,

Leaving me alone with a private meaning,

He loves me so much, my heart is singing.

Later at the Club when I rang him in the evening

They said: Sir Rat is dining, is dining, is dining,

No Madam, he left no message, ah how his silence speaks

He loves me too much for words, my heart is singing.

The Pullman seats are here, the tickets for Paris, I am waiting,

Presently the telephone rings it is his valet speaking,

Sir Rat is called away, to Scotland, his constituents,

(Ah the dreadful duchess, but he loves me best)

Best pleasure to the last, my heart is singing.

One night he came, it was four in the morning,

Walking slowly upstairs, he stands beside my bed,

Dear darling, lie beside me, it is too cold to stand speaking,

He lies down beside me, his face is like the sand,

He is in a sleep of love, my heart is singing.

Sleeping softly softly, in the morning I must wake him,

And waking he murmurs, I only came to sleep.

The words are so sweetly cruel, how deeply he loves me,

I say them to myself alone, my heart is singing.

Now the sunshine strengthens, it is ten in the morning,

He is so timid in love, he only needs to know,

He is my little child, how can he come if I do not call him,

I will write and tell him everything, I take the pen and write:

I love you so much, my heart is singing.

The late Stevie Smith was a secretary in a London publishing house. "Infelice" is taken from "The Faber Book of 20th-Century Women's Poetry," edited by Fleur Adcock (Faber & Faber: $15.95, hardcover; $7.95, paperback; 330 pp.).

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