Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
To a Soubrette
By Eugene Field
’T IS years, soubrette, since last we met;
  And yet—ah, yet, how swift and tender
My thoughts go back in time’s dull track
  To you, sweet pink of female gender!
I shall not say—though others may—        5
  That time all human joy enhances;
But the same old thrill comes to me still
  With memories of your songs and dances.
Soubrettish ways these latter days
  Invite my praise, but never get it;        10
I still am true to yours and you—
  My record’s made, I’ll not upset it!
The pranks they play, the things they say—
  I’d blush to put the like on paper,
And I’ll avow they don’t know how        15
  To dance, so awkwardly they caper!
I used to sit down in the pit
  And see you flit like elf or fairy
Across the stage, and I’ll engage
  No moonbeam sprite was half so airy;        20
Lo, everywhere about me there
  Were rivals reeking with pomatum,
And if, perchance, they caught your glance
  In song or dance, how did I hate ’em.
At half-past ten came rapture—then        25
  Of all those men was I most happy,
For bottled-beer and royal cheer
  And têtes-à-têtes were on the tapis.
Do you forget, my fair soubrette,
  Those suppers at the Café Rector,—        30
The cosy nook where we partook
  Of sweeter cheer than fabled nectar?
Oh, happy days, when youth’s wild ways
  Knew every phase of harmless folly!
Oh, blissful nights, whose fierce delights        35
  Defied gaunt-featured Melancholy!
Gone are they all beyond recall,
  And I—a shade, a mere reflection—
Am forced to feed my spirit’s greed
  Upon the husks of introspection!        40
And lo! to-night, the phantom light,
  That, as a sprite, flits on the fender,
Reveals a face whose girlish grace
  Brings back the feeling, warm and tender;
And, all the while, the old-time smile        45
  Plays on my visage, grim and wrinkled,—
As though, soubrette, your footfalls yet
  Upon my rusty heart-strings tinkled!

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