[by C. A. Woodhouse, NOT by P. G. Wodehouse]*
Punch, August 2, 1905
When first I whispered words of love,
When first you turned aside to hear,
The wingèd griffin flew above,
The mammoth gaily gamboll’d near;
I wore the latest thing in skins,
Your dock-leaf dress had just been mended
And fastened-up with fishes’ fins—
The whole effect was really splendid.
Again—we wandered by the Nile,
In Egypt’s far, forgotten land,
And watched the festive crocodile
Devour papyrus from your hand.
Far off across the plain we saw
The trader urge his flying camel;
Bright shone the scarab belt you wore,
Clasped with a sphinx of rare enamel.
Again—on Trojan plains I knelt;
Alas! in vain I strove to speak
And tell you all the love I felt
In more or less Homeric Greek;
Perhaps my helmet-strap was tight
And checked the thoughts I fain would utter,
Or else your robe of dreamy white
Bewildered me and made me stutter.
Once more we change the mise-en-scène;
The white road curves across the hill;
Excitement makes you rather plain,
But on the whole I love you still,
As wreathed in veils and goggles blue,
And clad in macintosh and leather,
Snug in our motor built for two
We skim the Brighton road together.
* Editor’s note:
This poem has been misquoted, mislabeled, and misattributed beyond all comprehension. I have just revised it directly from a photocopy of the magazine, where it is unsigned. The index to Punch, vol. 129, attributes it to C. A. Woodhouse, a published poet in his or her own right, and not a pseudonym for P. G. Wodehouse. Its appearance in McIlvaine’s Wodehouse bibliography, under the wrong title “Fashion’s Phrases,” has led many subsequent compilers astray. It is enjoyable on its own, so I am not deleting it here, but I see no evidence to attribute it to Wodehouse, who did not enter it into his account book of published works.