Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads/My Rival

For other versions of this work, see My Rival.


I go to concert, party, ball—
What profit is in these?
I sit alone against the wall
And strive to look at ease.
The incense that is mine by right
They burn before Her shrine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
And She is forty-nine.

I cannot check my girlish blush,
My colour comes and goes;
I redden to my finger-tips,
And sometimes to my nose.
But She is white where white should be
And red where red should shine.
The blush that flies at seventeen
Is fixed at forty-nine.

I wish I had Her constant cheek:
I wish that I could sing
All sorts of funny little songs,
Not quite the proper thing.
I'm very gauche and very shy,
Her jokes aren't in my line;
And, worst of all, I'm seventeen,
While She is forty-nine.

The young men come, the young men go,
Each pink and white and neat,
She's older than their mothers, but
They grovel at Her feet.
They walk beside Her 'rickshaw-wheels—
They never walk by mine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
And She is forty-nine.

She rides with half a dozen men
(She calls them "boys" and "mashers"),
I trot along the Mall alone;
My prettiest frocks and sashes
Don't help to fill my programme-card,
And vainly I repine
From ten to two A. M. Ah me!
Would I were forty-nine.

She calls me "darling," "pet," and "dear,"
And "sweet retiring maid."
I'm always at the back, I know,
She puts me in the shade.
She introduces me to men,
"Cast" lovers, I opine,
For sixty takes to seventeen,
Nineteen to forty-nine.

But even She must older grow
And end Her dancing days,
She can't go on for ever so
At concerts, balls, and plays.
One ray of priceless hope I see
Before my footsteps shine:
Just think, that She'll be eighty-one
When I am forty-nine!