Song as Sung by Prince Lir to Lady Amalthea, from “The Last Unicorn” (by Peter S. Beagle)

“When I was a young man, and very well thought of,
I couldn’t ask aught that the ladies denied.
I nibbled their hearts like a handful of raisins,
And I never spoke love but I knew that I lied.

“But I said to myself, ‘Ah, they none of them know
The secret I shelter and savor and save.
I wait for the one who will see through my seeming,
And I’ll know when I love by the way I behave.’

“The years drifted over like clouds in the heavens;
The ladies went by me like snow on the wind.
I charmed and I cheated, deceived and dissembled,
And I sinned, and I sinned, and I sinned, and I sinned.

“But I said to myself, ‘Ah, they none of them see
There’s part of me pure as the whisk of a wave.
My lady is late, but she’ll find I’ve been faithful,
And I’ll know when I love by the way I behave.’

“At last came a lady both knowing and tender,
Saying, ‘You’re not at all what they take you to be.’
I betrayed her before she had quite finished speaking,
And she swallowed cold poison and jumped in the sea.

“And I say to myself, when there’s time for a word,
As I gracefully grow more debauched and depraved,
‘Ah, love may be strong, but a habit is stronger,
And I knew when I loved by the way I behaved.”

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