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Too Late!

From the Evening Star, August 7, 1913. By Philander Johnson.

When there’s gayety assembled and the lights are all aglow
Why is that we falter in the conversation’s flow?
Why is it that we do not think till half-past two or three
Of something which at ten would have been first-rate repartee?
Repose declines to greet you. It is banished from your bed
As you keep on thinking over all the things you might have said.

When your name has just been mentioned in connection with a speech,
And every thought you ever had has drifted out of reach;
When you say, “To public speaking, unaccustomed as I am,”
And then relapse into an imitation of a clam,
You realize with bitterness than when three hours have fled
You’ll have insomnia, thinking of the things you might have said.

’Tis the fate of many a statesman with a crisis on his hands;
It’s the same way with a lover who in bashful silence stands.
In every line of effort we are likely to be caught
In fierce resentment of some bright but useless afterthought.
Of all the gloomy specters that oppress our souls with dread,
The worst are recollections of the things we might have said.

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