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It once might have been, once only:

We lodged in a street together,
You, a sparrow on the housetop lonely,

I, a lone she-bird of his feather.

Your trade was with sticks and clay,

You thumbed, thrust, patted, and polished, Then laughed, “ They will see some day

Smith made, and Gibson demolished.”


My business was song, song, song ;

I chirped, cheeped, trilled, and twittered, “ Kate Brown's on the boards erelong,

And Grisi's existence embittered ! ”


I earned no more by a warble

Than you by a sketch in plaster ; You wanted a piece of marble,

I needed a music-master.

We studied hard in our styles,

Chipped each at a crust like Hindoos, For air, looked out on the tiles,

For fun, watched each other's windows.

You lounged, like a boy of the South,

Cap and blouse — nay, a bit of beard too; Or you got it, rubbing your mouth

With fingers the clay adhered to.

And I — soon managed to find

Weak points in the flower-fence facing, Was forced to put up a blind

And be safe in my corset-lacing.

No harm! It was not my fault

If you never turned your eyes' tail up, As I shook upon E in alt.,

Or ran the chromatic scale up:

For spring bade the sparrows pair,

And the boys and girls gave guesses, And stalls in our street looked rare

With bulrush and watercresses.


Why did not you pinch a flower

In a pellet of clay and fling it ? Why did not I put a power

Of thanks in a look, or sing it ?


I did look, sharp as a lynx,

(And yet the memory rankles,) When models arrived, some minx

Tripped up-stairs, she and her ankles.

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