The girls that never can
In every lane and street
I hear the rustle of their gowns,
The whisper of their feet;
The sweetness of their passing by,
Their glances strong as wine,
Provoke the unpossessive sigh—
Ah! girls that never can be mine.
So audacious has Beauty become in these latter days, so proudly she walks abroad, making so superb an appeal to the desire of the eye, thighed like Artemis, and bosomed like Aphrodite, or at whiles a fairy creature of ivory and gossamer and fragrance, with a look in her eyes of secret gardens; and so much is the wide world at her feet, and one with her in the vanity of her fairness—that I sometimes fear an impending dies irae, when the dormant spirit of Puritanism will reassert itself, and some stern priests thunder from the pulpit of worldly vanities and the wrath to come. Indeed, I can well imagine in the near future some modern Savonarola presiding over a new Bonfire of Vanities in Madison Square, on which, to the droning of Moody and Sankey’s hymns, shall be cast all the fascinating Parisian creations, the puffs and rats, the powder and the rouge, the darling stockings, and all such concomitant bewitcheries that today make Manhattan a veritable Isle of Circe, all to go up in savage sectarian flame, before the eyes of melancholy young men, and filling all the city with the perfume of beauty’s holocaust. At street corners too will stand great books in which weeping maidens will sign their names, swearing before high heaven, to wear nothing but gingham and bed-ticking for the dreary remainder of their lives. Such a day may well come, as it has often come before, and certainly will, if women persist in being so deliberately beautiful as they are at present.