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Only a Dancing Girl

Fun n.s. III - 23rd Jun. 1866


Only a dancing girl,
With an unromantic style,
With borrowed colour and curl
With fixed mechanical smile
With many a hackneyed wile,
With ungrammatical lips,
And corns that mar her trips!

Hung from the "flies" in air,
She acts a palpable lie;
She's as little a fairy there
As unpoetical I!
I hear you asking, Why —
Why in the world I sing
This tawdry, tinselled thing?
Illustration by Gilbert


No airy fairy she,
As she hangs in arsenic green,
From a highly impossible tree,
In a highly impossible scene
(Herself not over clean).
For fays don't suffer, I'm told,
From bunions, coughs, or cold.

And stately dames that bring
Their daughters there to see,
Pronounce the "dancing thing"
No better than she should be.
With her skirt at her shameful knee,
And her painted, tainted phiz:
Ah, matron, which of us is?

(And, in sooth, it oft occurs
That while these matrons sigh,
Their dresses are lower than hers,
And sometimes half as high;
And their hair is hair they buy.
And they use their glasses, too,
In a way she'd blush to do.)

But change her gold and green
For a coarse merino gown,
And see her upon the scene
Of her home, when coaxing down
Her drunken father's frown,
In his squalid cheerless den:
She's a fairy truly, then!

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