You met your American
While your mother convalesced
At the spas 'round Lake Geneva.
You were out upon a bicycle,
When you tumbled to the ground.
Your jewess stopped beside you
And helped you to your feet.
Another man, you thought your new found friend,
How surprising that she wasn't!
She said she was an heiress who fancied manly clothes,
(But only when out riding.)
A young widow, not once but twice;
With sumptuous apartments,
Both in London and in Paris.
At a café that night you saw your suffragette,
In proper female dress.
Your rescuer watched you boldly
From precocious veiled green eyes,
While savoring a cigarette,
(You couldn't look away.)
Without asking your permission
Your Bohemian joined you at your table.
From your copy of Byron,
She read aloud your favorites,
Your heart began to pound.
The two of you sat quoting to each other
Smoking until way past dawn.
Ruth enjoyed your poetry.
Your words so many golden coins,
As they never were before;
Rushing forth unbound
While the two of you,
Cycled side by side
Along the shores of Lake Geneva.
One afternoon the two of you
Sat in that same café,
Your muse kissed you upon the cheek,
(You blushed, such forwardness was…)
As she whispered in your ear,
"My father chose my first two husbands,
May I choose you for my third?"
"I have enough for both of us,"
She smiled at you,
"Even with your mother."
You sat there, the words brimming up
Behind your silent lips.
You knew not what to say.
So you merely smiled and nodded.
In your joy you told your mother,
And she wept as she lay dying,
"Why must it be that red-haired scandal?
My child, for all her money.
She'll only bring us down,
This will not do,
Find someone else instead!"
You always were a good son,
So you did not once protest,
As your dear mother sang the virtues
Of the sweetly English Cecily.
Her connections and her breeding,
As the poetry strangled in your heart.
Cecily- her figure lush, her nose demure,
Modest as a muse should be.
A proper British goddess,
From an excellent family.
Your jewess you cast aside,
Her nose too large, her mouth too wide,
Too Bohemian for English taste.
You left the shore of Lake Geneva,
Cecily reigning in your heart.
Once more you were the good son,
Abandoning improper love,
To take up what was proper.
Your mother's happiness restored;
The only thing that mattered.
Author's Note 1: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, I am told, is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, and a popular place for invalids in the Victorian Era to congregate. Why not have William's mother briefly appear there with her chronic consumption?
Author's Note 2: William's era was an appallingly restrictive time – the wrong color of gloves could get you banned from important social circles. To be openly courted by an aggressive woman of independent mind and means who smoked and read passionate poetry, would have been a novelty – no, a flat out shock to William and his mother. Women were supposed to be submissive mirrors of the men around them; the Bohemian Ruth is blatantly not. The fact that Ruth is also a jew(ess) makes his infatuation even more socially dangerous to his mother. So what if Ruth loves her son and makes him happier than he's ever been? Ruth must go, if they are to maintain their precarious position in society – to be replaced by the far more conventional (read "safe") Cecily. Never mind that in doing so, William's mother is condemning her son with her narrow minded good intentions, to being an "outsider on the inside" once again.
Author's Note 3: Jewess is an old term, and a common one from that era that William and his peers would have used casually without thought - I use this ugly term to indicate his and his mother's attitudes - to cross over the racial/religious lines was a dangerous thing in those days and bears pointing out.