Without and Within
My coachman, in the moonlight there,
Looks through the side light of the door;
I hear him with his brethren swear,
As I could do,—but only more.
Flattening his nose against the pane,
He envies me my brilliant lot,
Breathes on his aching fists in vain,
And dooms me to a place more hot.
He sees me in to supper go,
A silken wonder by my side.
Bare arms, bare shoulders, and a row
Of flounces, for the door too wide.
He thinks how happy is my arm
‘Neath its white-gloved and jewelled load;
And wishes me some dreadful harm,
Hearing the merry corks explode.
Meanwhile I inly curse the bore
Of hunting still the same old coon,
And envy him, outside the door,
In golden quiets of the moon.
The winter wind is not so cold
As the bright smile he sees me win,
Nor the host’s oldest wine so old
As our poor gabble sour and thin.
I envy him the ungyved prance
With which his freezing feet he warms,
And drag my lady’s-chains and dance
The galley-slave of dreary forms.
Oh, could he have my share of din,
And I his quiet!—past a doubt
‘T would still be one man bored within,
And just another bored without.
Nay, when, once paid my mortal fee,
Some idler on my headstone grim
Traces the moss-blurred name, will he
Think me the happier, or I him?
James Russell Lowell