“I’m Not A Single Man” by Thomas Hood

[Note: Written in the album of Miss Smith, daughter of Mr. Horace Smith, of the Rejected Addresses. Miss Smith happily still survives to show her friends with pride these admirable verses, inscribed in Hood’s neat and clear handwriting.]


A pretty task, Miss S—-, to ask
A Benedictine pen,
That cannot quite at freedom write
Like those of other men.

No lover’s plaint my muse must paint
To fill this page’s span,
But be correct and recollect
I’m not a single man.

Pray only think, for pen and ink
How hard to get along,
That may not turn on words that burn
Or Love, the life of song!

Nine Muses, if I chooses, I
May woo all in a clan,
But one Miss S—- I daren’t address–
I’m not a single man.

Scribblers unwed, with little head
May eke it out with heart,
And in their lays it often plays
A rare first-fiddle part.

They make a kiss to rhyme with bliss,
But if I so began,
I have my fears about my ears–
I’m not a single man.

Upon your cheek I may not speak,
Nor on your lip be warm,
I must be wise about your eyes,
And formal with your form;

Of all that sort of thing, in short,
On T.H. Bayly’s plan,
I must not twine a single line–
I’m not a single man.

A watchman’s part compels my heart
To keep you off its beat,
And I might dare as soon to swear
At you, as at your feet.

I can’t expire in passion’s fire
As other poets can–
My life (she’s by) won’t let me die–
I’m not a single man.

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Shut out from love, denied a dove,
Forbidden bow and dart,
Without a groan to call my own,
With neither hand nor heart;

To Hymen vow’d, and not allow’d
To flirt e’en with your fan,
Here end, as just a friend, I must–
I’m not a single man.

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