The Coquette

by Marietta Holley

Marietta Holley

How can I be to blame?
Is it my fault I am fair?
I did not fashion my features,
Or brush the gold in my hair;
Because my eyes are so blue and bright,
Must I never look up from the ground,
But put out with my eyelids' snow their light,
Lest some foolish heart they should wound?

How can I be in fault?
I am sure where hearts are so few,
It is difficult to discern
The diamonds of paste from the true;
I thought him like all the rest,
Skilful in playing his part;
As careful at cards or at chess,
As winning a woman's heart.

I am sure it is nothing wrong,
Nothing to think of--and yet
I know I lured him with glance and song,
Into my shining net;
Provokingly cold at first he seemed,
Like crystal to smiles and sighs,
But at last he felt the magic that gleamed
In my dreamy violet eyes.

And I led him on and on,
Farther, in truth, than I strove,
For he frightened me with the earnestness
And violence of his love;
These calm-eyed men deceive--
Had I known the man had a heart,
I would have paused, I would, I believe,
Have acted a different part.

In his royal indignation
He uttered some wholesome truth--
He almost roused the emotion
That died in my innocent youth;
Emotion that lived when life was new,
Ere that man my pathway crossed,
Who played me a game untrue,
When I staked all my love, and lost.

Oh for a saintly beauty,
What efforts my soul did make;
I thought all goodness and purity
Were possible for his sake;
The world seemed born anew, my life
Such holy meaning wore,
I fancy so fair and fond a dream
Never fell into ruins before.

He toyed with my fresh affection
As he breathed the country air,
To refresh him after a season
Of fashion, and falsehood, and glare;
Had he not slain my tenderness,
Had my life been more sweet,
I might have known nobler happiness
Than to humble men to my feet.

But now I love to lure them on,
To make them slaves to my gaze,
Like serfs to a conqueror's chariot,
Like moths to a candle-blaze.
I melt most royally time, the pearl,
And quaff the cup like a queen,
And forget in the dizzy tumult and whirl,
The woman I might have been.

Last updated November 04, 2022