Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
Chivalry at a Discount
By Edward Fitzgerald
FAIR cousin mine! the golden days
  Of old romance are over;
And minstrels now care nought for bays,
  Nor damsels for a lover;
And hearts are cold, and lips are mute        5
  That kindled once with passion,
And now we’ve neither lance nor lute,
  And tilting ’s out of fashion.
Yet weeping Beauty mourns the time
  When Love found words in flowers;        10
When softest sighs were breathed in rhyme,
  And sweetest songs in bowers;
Now wedlock is a sober thing—
  No more of chains or forges!—
A plain young man—a plain gold ring—        15
  The curate—and St. George’s.
Then every cross-bow had a string,
  And every heart a fetter;
And making love was quite the thing,
  And making verses better;        20
And maiden aunts were never seen,
  And gallant beaux were plenty;
And lasses married at sixteen,
  And died at one-and-twenty.
Then hawking was a noble sport,        25
  And chess a pretty science;
And huntsmen learned to blow à mort,
  And heralds a defiance.
And knights and spearmen show’d their might,
  And timid hinds took warning;        30
And hypocras was warm’d at night
  And coursers in the morning.
Then plumes and pennons were prepared,
  And patron saints were lauded;
And noble deeds were bravely dared,        35
  And noble dames applauded;
And Beauty play’d the leech’s part,
  And wounds were heal’d with syrup;
And warriors sometimes lost a heart,
  But never lost a stirrup.        40
Then there was no such thing as Fear,
  And no such word as Reason;
And Faith was like a pointed spear,
  And fickleness was treason;
And hearts were soft, though blows were hard;        45
  But when the fight was over,
A brimming goblet cheer’d the board,
  His Lady’s smile the lover.
Ay, those were glorious days! The moon
  Had then her true adorers;        50
And there were lyres and lutes in tune,
  And no such thing as snorers;
And lovers swam, and held at nought
  Streams broader than the Mersey;
And fifty thousand would have fought        55
  For a smile from Lady Jersey.
Then people wore an iron vest,
  And had no use for tailors;
And the artizans who lived the best
  Were armourers and nailers:        60
And steel was measured by the ell,
  And trousers lined with leather;
And jesters wore a cap and bell,
  And knights a cap and feather.
Then single folks might live at ease,        65
  And married ones might sever;
Uncommon doctors had their fees,
  But Doctors’ Commons never;
O! had we in those times been bred,
  Fair cousin, for thy glances,        70
Instead of breaking Priscian’s head,
  I had been breaking lances!

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