Complete Poetical Works

“The Return of Belisarius”

(Mud Flat, 1860)

Bret Harte

SO you’re back from your travels, old fellow,
    And you left but a twelvemonth ago;
You’ve hobnobbed with Louis Napoleon,
    Eugenie, and kissed the Pope’s toe.
By Jove, it is perfectly stunning,
    Astounding,—and all that, you know;
Yes, things are about as you left them
    In Mud Flat a twelvemonth ago.

The boys!—they’re all right,—Oh! Dick Ashley,
    He’s buried somewhere in the snow;
He was lost on the Summit last winter,
    And Bob has a hard row to hoe.
You know that he’s got the consumption?
    You didn’t!    Well, come, that’s a go;
I certainly wrote you at Baden,—
    Dear me! that was six months ago.

I got all your outlandish letters,
    All stamped by some foreign P. O.
I handed myself to Miss Mary
    That sketch of a famous chateau.
Tom Saunders is living at ’Frisco,—
    They say that he cuts quite a show.
You didn’t meet Euchre-deck Billy
    Anywhere on your road to Cairo?

So you thought of the rusty old cabin,
    The pines, and the valley below,
And heard the North Fork of the Yuba
    As you stood on the banks of the Po?
’Twas just like your romance, old fellow;
    But now there is standing a row
Of stores on the site of the cabin
    That you lived in a twelvemonth ago.

But it’s jolly to see you, old fellow,—
    To think it’s a twelvemonth ago!
And you have seen Louis Napoleon,
    And look like a Johnny Crapaud.
Come in.    You will surely see Mary,—
    You know we are married.    What, no?
Oh, ay!    I forgot there was something
    Between you a twelvemonth ago.

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