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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

My Rival

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
  They burn before her shrine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
  And She is forty-nine.

I cannot check my girlish blush,
  My color comes and goes;
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
  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.
I'm very gauche and very shy,
  Her jokes aren't in my line;
And, worst of all, I'm seventeen
  While She is forty-nine.

The young men come, the young men go
  Each pink and white and neat,
She's older than their mothers, but
  They grovel at Her feet.
They walk beside Her 'rickshaw wheels --
  None ever walk by mine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
  And She is foty-nine.

She rides with half a dozen men,
  (She calls them "boys" and "mashers")
I trot along the Mall alone;
  My prettiest frocks and sashes
Don't help to fill my programme-card,
  And vainly I repine
From ten to two A.M. Ah me!
  Would I were forty-nine!

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,
  "Cast" lovers, I opine,
For sixty takes to seventeen,
  Nineteen to foty-nine.

But even She must older grow
  And end Her dancing days,
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
  When I am forty-nine.

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