We sigh above historic pages,
Brave with the deeds of courtly men,
And wish those peers of middle ages
In our dull day could live again.
And yet no knight or troubadour began
In chivalry with the American.
He does not frequent joust or tourney,
And flaunt his lady's colours there;
But in the tedium of a journey,
He shows that deferential care--
That thoughtful kindness to the sex at large,
Which makes each woman feel herself his charge.
He does not challenge foes to duel,
To win his lady's cast-off glove,
But proves in ways less rash and cruel
The truth and fervour of his love.
Not by bold deeds, but by his reverent mien,
He pays his public tribute to his Queen.
He may not shine with courtly graces,
But yet, his kind, respectful air
To woman, whatsoe'er her place is,
It might be well if kings could share.
So, for the chivalric true gentleman,
Give me, I say, our own American.
Poems of pleasure by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
London: Gay & Bird, 1900.
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