WONDERING maiden, so puzzled and fair,
Why dost thou murmur and ponder and stare?
“Why are my eyelids so open and wild?”
Only the better to see with, my child!
Only the better and clearer to view
Cheeks that are rosy and eyes that are blue.
Dost thou still wonder, and ask why these arms
Fill thy soft bosom with tender alarms,
Swaying so wickedly? Are they misplaced
Clasping or shielding some delicate waist?
Hands whose coarse sinews may fill you with fear
Only the better protect you, my dear!
Little Red Riding-Hood, when in the street,
Why do I press your small hand when we meet?
Why, when you timidly offered your cheek,
Why did I sigh, and why didn’t I speak?
Why, well: you see—if the truth must appear—
I’m not your grandmother, Riding-Hood, dear!