At the Church Picnic by Edward Dyson

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'Neath the saplings straight and slender,
   'Mid the heather full of bloom,
Sat I by a lady tender,
   Whispering in the grateful gloom;
Fitful breezes slyly stealing
   Shook the blossom-burdened shrub
Our enchanted haunt concealing
   From the crowd beneath the scrub.

Fair was she and plump and pleasing,
   With the brightest, bluest eyes,
Soft, small hands for covert squeezing;
   P'r'aps the action was not wise,
But I ventured soon to press them -
   We were strangers ere that day -
'Twas no harm though to caress them,
   Picnics now are run this way.

Was her waist not trim and taper -
   Tempting to a supple arm?
Doubtless this looks bold on paper,
   But I yielded to its charm.
There and then I did enfold its
   Dainty shape.  I here avow
Frowned she not nor sought to scold - it's
   Quite the thing at picnics now.

Glanced her dancing eyes demurely,
   And her lips were ripe and red,
'Twas the proper sequence surely,
   First to kiss her cheek instead.
Kissed I it, and tasted Heaven;
   Sure the dame did not demur -
Kisses stolen six or seven
   Do not count at picnics, sir.

Thirty summer suns had glimmered
   O'er her shapely golden head,
Where the wavy meshes simmered,
   She'd been married once, she said.
Then I kissed her full lips flushing,
   And an answ'ring pressure got -
Where's the reason there for blushing?
    Picnics sanctify a lot.

Sate we long amongst the heather,
   'Till they rang the bell for tea,
Hearts and faces close together,
   Talking sweetest poetry.
Ten with parting pressure hearty -
   Soft regrets shone in her face -
Both rejoined the picnic party
   Just in time to join in grace.

Soon again I saw her quaintly
   Superintendent o'er an urn
With an aspect sweet but saintly;
   Hungered I her name to learn.
"Who is she, so plump, with panik-
   Ins of Congou by her side?"
"Parson's wife!" a grim, laconic
   Party on my right replied.

So she was - the Reverend Mrs.
   Abram Ebenezer Bunce -
Yes, she told me 'tween the kisses
   That she had been married once.
Caesar, though! she didn't say that
   Abram still was at the plough;
Well, it's Kismet!  'Tis a way that
   They have got at picnics now.

First published in The Bulletin, 15 March 1890

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 15, 2011 8:43 AM.

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