A Sick-Room Idyll

When Nellie sits beside my bed, 
   She thinks, to please a Poet,
Her talk must be of books, 
   Although I’d rather she’d forego it.

For oft she makes such queer mistakes 
   I must break out in laughter,
And then she looks so grieved, that I 
   Repent the minute after.

Yet though she talks of Ruskin’s plays, 
   Of Dickens’ Tristram Shandy,
There’s none can clearer jellies make, 
   Or match with her in candy.

What though she strays from Pope to Poe 
   With fancy wild and vagrant,
There’s none brings oranges so big 
   Or apples half so fragrant.

And then her eyes are clear and kind, 
   Her mouth is sweet and rosy,
She brings me now chrysanthemums, 
   Now violets in a posy.

Her pastry, too, is always crisp, 
   Her sweets are never gritty,
Her frocks are always neat and fine, 
   Her face is good and pretty.

So while in kindness she is rich, 
   What though her lore be scanty?
What though she talk of Homer’s Faust
   Or Don Quixote by Dante?

What though she asks what Jane Eyre wrote?
   If Wordsworth still be living?
O, I forgive her all, for she 
   Herself is so forgiving.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 1, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.