Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
My Rival
By Rudyard Kipling
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        5
  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;        10
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        15
  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.        20
I’m very gauche and very shy;
  Her jokes are n’t in my line;
And, worst of all, I’m seventeen,
  While she is forty-nine.
The young men come, the young men go,        25
  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;        30
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.        35
  My prettiest frocks and sashes
Don’t help to fill my programme-card,
  And vainly I repine
From 10 to 2 A.M. Ah me!
  Would I were forty-nine!        40
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,        45
  “Cast” lovers, I opine,
For sixty takes to seventeen,
  Nineteen to forty-nine.
But even She must older grow
  And end Her dancing days;        50
She can’t go on forever 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        55
  When I am forty-nine.

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