Complete Poetical Works

What Miss Edith Saw from Her Window

Bret Harte

OUR WINDOW’S not much, though it fronts on the street;
        There’s a fly in the pane that gets nothin’ to eat;
        But it’s curious how people think it’s a treat
                For me to look out of the window!

Why, when company comes, and they’re all speaking low,
        With their chairs drawn together, then some one says, “Oh!
        Edith dear!—that’s a good child—now run, love, and go
                And amuse yourself there at the window!”

Or Bob—that’s my brother—comes in with his chum,
        And they whisper and chuckle, the same words will come.
        And it’s “Edith, look here!    Oh, I say! what a rum
                Lot of things you can see from that window!”

And yet, as I told you, there’s only that fly
        Buzzing round in the pane, and a bit of blue sky,
        And the girl in the opposite window, that I
                Look at when she looks from her window.

And yet, I’ve been thinking I’d so like to see
        If what goes on behind her, goes on behind me!
        And then, goodness gracious! what fun it would be
                For us both as we sit by our window!

How we’d know when the parcels were hid in a drawer,
        Or things taken out that one never sees more;
        What people come in and go out of the door,
                That we never see from the window!

And that night when the stranger came home with our Jane
        I might see what I heard then, that sounded so plain—
        Like when my wet fingers I rub on the pane
                (Which they won’t let me do on my window).

And I’d know why papa shut the door with a slam,
        And said something funny that sounded like “jam,”
        And then “Edith—where are you?”    I said, “Here I am.”
                “Ah, that’s right, dear, look out of the window!”

They say when I’m grown up these things will appear
        More plain than they do when I look at them here,
        But I think I see some things uncommonly clear,
                As I sit and look down from the window.

What things?    Oh, the things that I make up, you know,
        Out of stories I’ve read—and they all pass below.
        Ali Baba, the Forty Thieves, all in a row,
                Go by, as I look from my window.

That’s only at church time; other days there’s no crowd.
        Don’t laugh!    See that big man who looked up and bowed?
        That’s our butcher—I call him the Sultan Mahoud
                When he nods to me here at the window!

And that man—he’s our neighbor—just gone for a ride
        Has three wives in the churchyard that lie side by side.
        So I call him “Bluebeard” in search of his bride,
                While I’m Sister Anne at the window.

And what do I call you?    Well, here’s what I do:
        When my sister expects you, she puts me here, too;
        But I wait till you enter, to see if it’s you,
                And then—I just open the window!

“Dear child!”    Yes, that’s me!    Oh, you ask what that’s for?
        Well, Papa says you’re “Poverty’s self,” and what’s more,
        I open the window, when you’re at the door,
                To see Love fly out of the window!”

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