The Homely Pathetic by Bret Harte

II. THE HOMELY PATHETIC

The dews are heavy on my brow;
My breath comes hard and low;
Yet, mother dear, grant one request,
Before your boy must go.
Oh! lift me ere my spirit sinks,
And ere my senses fail,
Place me once more, O mother dear,
Astride the old fence-rail.

The old fence-rail, the old fence-rail!
How oft these youthful legs,
With Alice’ and Ben Bolt’s, were hung
Across those wooden pegs!
‘Twas there the nauseating smoke
Of my first pipe arose:
O mother dear, these agonies
Are far less keen than those.

I know where lies the hazel dell,
Where simple Nellie sleeps;
I know the cot of Nettie Moore,
And where the willow weeps.
I know the brookside and the mill,
But all their pathos fails
Beside the days when once I sat
Astride the old fence-rails.

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