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My Rival

A Poem 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

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.

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 forty-nine.

She rides with half a dozen men

( She calls them "boys" and "mashes"),

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 forty-nine.

But even  She must older grow

And end Her dancing days,

She can't go on for ever 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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