Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
The Ladies of St. James’s
By Austin Dobson
A Proper New Ballad of the Country and the Town

“Phyllida amo ante alias.”—VIRGIL

THE LADIES of St. James’s
  Go swinging to the play:
Their footmen run before them,
  With a “Stand by! Clear the way!”
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!        5
  She takes her buckled shoon,
When we go out a-courting
  Beneath the harvest moon.
The ladies of St. James’s
  Wear satin on their backs;        10
They sit all night at Ombre
  With candles all of wax.
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!
  She dons her russet gown,
And runs to gather May dew        15
  Before the world is down.
The ladies of St. James’s!
  They are so fine and fair,
You’d think a box of essences
  Was broken in the air;        20
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!
  The breath of heath and furze.
When breezes blow at morning,
  Is not so fresh as hers.
The ladies of St. James’s!        25
  They’re painted to the eyes;
Their white it stays for ever,
  Their red it never dies:
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!
  Her colour comes and goes;        30
It trembles to a lily,—
  It wavers to a rose.
The ladies of St. James’s!
  You scarce can understand
The half of all their speeches,        35
  Their phrases are so grand:
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!
  Her shy and simple words
Are clear as after rain-drops
  The music of the birds.        40
The ladies of St. James’s!
  They have their fits and freaks;
They smile on you—for seconds,
  They frown on you—for weeks;
But Phyllida, my Phyllida!        45
  Come either storm or shine,
From Shrove-tide unto Shrove-tide,
  Is always true—and mine.
My Phyllida! my Phyllida!
  I care not though they heap        50
The hearts of all St. James’s,
  And give me all to keep;
I care not whose the beauties
  Of all the world may be,
For Phyllida—for Phyllida        55
  Is all the world to me!

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