The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, by Thomas Hood

The Widow.

One widow at a grave will sob

A little while, and weep, and sigh!

If two should meet on such a job,

They’ll have a gossip by and by.

If three should come together — why,

Three widows are good company!

If four should meet by any chance,

Four is a number very nice,

To have a rubber in a trice —

But five will up and have a dance!

Poor Mrs. C—— (why should I not

Declare her name? — her name was Cross)

Was one of those the “common lot”

Had left to weep “no common loss”;

For she had lately buried then

A man, the “very best of men,”

A lingering truth, discovered first

Whenever men “are at the worst.”

To take the measure of her woe,

It was some dozen inches deep —

I mean in crape, and hung so low,

It hid the drops she did not weep:

In fact, what human life appears,

It was a perfect “veil of tears.”

Though ever since she lost “her prop

And stay”— alas! he wouldn’t stay —

She never had a tear to mop,

Except one little angry drop

From Passion’s eye, as Moore would say,

Because, when Mister Cross took flight,

It looked so very like a spite —

He died upon a washing-day!

Still Widow Cross went twice a week,

As if “to wet a widows’ cheek,”

And soothe his grave with sorrow’s gravy —

’Twas nothing but a make-believe,

She might as well have hoped to grieve

Enough of brine to float a navy;

And yet she often seemed to raise

A cambric kerchief to her eye —

A duster ought to be the phrase,

Its work was all so very dry.

The springs were locked that ought to flow —

In England or in widow-woman —

As those that watch the weather know,

Such “backward Springs” are not uncommon.

But why did Widow Cross take pains

To call upon the “dear remains”—

Remains that could not tell a jot

Whether she ever wept or not,

Or how his relict took her losses?

Oh! my black ink turns red for shame —

But still the naughty world must learn,

There was a little German came

To shed a tear in “Anna’s Urn,”

At the next grave to Mr. Cross’s!

For there an angel’s virtues slept,

“Too soon did Heaven assert its claim!”

But still her painted face he kept,

“Encompassed in an angel’s frame.”

He looked quite sad and quite deprived,

His head was nothing but a hat-band;

He looked so lone, and so unwived,

That soon the Widow Cross contrived

To fall in love with even that band!

And all at once the brackish juices

Came gushing out thro’ sorrow’s sluices —

Tear after tear too fast to wipe,

Tho’ sopped, and sopped, and sopped again —

No leak in sorrow’s private pipe,

But like a bursting on the main!

Whoe’er has watched the window-pane —

I mean to say in showery weather —

Has seen two little drops of rain,

Like lovers very fond and fain,

At one another creeping, creeping,

Till both, at last, embrace together:

So fared it with that couple’s weeping!

The principle was quite as active —

Tear unto tear

Kept drawing near,

Their very blacks became attractive.

To cut a shortish story shorter,

Conceive them sitting tête-à-tête

Two cups — hot muffins on a plate —

With “Anna’s Urn” to hold hot water!

The brazen vessel for awhile

Had lectured in an easy song,

Like Abernethy — on the bile —

The scalded herb was getting strong;

All seemed as smooth as smooth could be,

To have a cosy cup of tea.

Alas! how often human sippers

With unexpected bitters meet,

And buds, the sweetest of the sweet,

Like sugar, only meet the nippers!

The Widow Cross, I should have told,

Had seen three husbands to the mould:

She never sought an Indian pyre,

Like Hindoo wives that lose their loves;

But, with a proper sense of fire,

Put up, instead, with “three removes.”

Thus, when with any tender words

Or tears she spoke about her loss,

The dear departed Mr. Cross

Came in for nothing but his thirds;

For, as all widows love too well,

She liked upon the list to dwell,

And oft ripped up the old disasters.

She might, indeed, have been supposed

A great ship owner; for she prosed

Eternally of her Three Masters!

Thus, foolish woman! while she nursed

Her mild souchong, she talked and reckoned

What had been left her by her first,

And by her last, and by her second.

Alas! not all her annual rents

Could then entice the little German —

Not Mr. Cross’s Three per Cents,

Or Consols, ever make him her man.

He liked her cash, he liked her houses,

But not that dismal bit of land

She always settled on her spouses.

So taking up his hat and band,

Said he, “You’ll think my conduct odd —

But here my hopes no more may linger;

I thought you had a wedding-finger,

But oh! — it is a curtain-rod!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hood/thomas/poetical-works/poem164.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:51