Elizabeth Stoddard



Vers De Société

by Elizabeth Stoddard

This chain of white arms round the room --
The demon waltz -- bewilders me:
Or am I drunk with this good wine?
Vive la compagnie!

My friend, young Highboys, have you met?
O yes: how do? good brandy here!
The wretch's mother, in her youth,
Was famous for her beer!

Before his patent scraper sold
Old Highboys used to beat them all!
See what Society has done --
He 's holding her cashmere shawl!

How is it, Madam, that I know
The guests at once? Wipe off the paint --
Convention daubs us all alike,
Sinner as well as Saint!

I see you in the crimson chair,
Behind your jewelled Spanish fan,
Slipping your bracelets up and down,
Flashing your eyes on the man

Who plays the harp; he twangs an air
You understand -- you've met before;
How many lessons did you take?
Madam, you need no more.

Tiger of fifty! So you've bought
This pretty girl in the Honiton lace.
Now she's abroad, she quite forgets
She shudders in your embrace.

Dowagers, stiff in black brocades,
Worry the waiters -- sweep their trays:
How they scowl at the foolish men
Basking in Beauty's blaze!

Saunters a poet, munching cake:
Very distinguished. Did you buy
Your lace at Beck's?
Why, how he laughs!
But his verses make one cry!

Idle poet, a word with you:
You sing too much of love's sweet wrong,
Of rosy cheeks, and purple wine:
Give us a loftier song.

The coachmen stamp upon the steps;
Our hostess looks towards the door;
Our host twists round his limp cravat,
Pronouncing the thing a bore!

Our skeletons will be stirring soon;
Something already touches me:
Off, till I drain one bottle more!
Vive la compagnie!


Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company, Boston And New York