The Song of the Dancer




'With a form so wasted and worn, a spirit weary
and faint, a maiden danced in ragged robes
and patches of powder and paint.'

What! Eternal condemnation for each innocent gyration,
Plus pneumonia and bronchitis and a ragged dress as well?
Keler-Bela, Strauss, Waldteufel, with immortal souls you trifle,
For it seems your sweetest music opes the shortest cut to Hades.

If this isn't said but hinted in the poem that you printed
On the thirtieth of August, and I've seen the thing before.
There's a certain form of tract (which is extremely inexact) which
Says in prose what 'G' has chanted of the perils of the Floor.

Does Dancing lead to Death then? Does one never stop for breath then?
Do our wholesome English maidens deal in powder and in paint?
Do they fly where drinks are handy, to the 'simpkin' and the brandy?
Are they all that 'G' has stated? I have met a few who ain't.

There are venerable dancers—senile, snowy-headed prancers,
Who are better in the whist-room—better still at home in bed.
But they frolic round the ball-room, taking up already small room,
Why should 'G' attack the youngsters? Why not preach to these instead?

They were young long since, we know it. They are old, their faces show it.
They have had their cakes and ginger; played the play and seen the show,
And we feel ' bonjour lunettes', should entail 'adieu fillettes',
But it doesn't, and they linger all unwilling yet to go.

'Ah! The insolence of Youth' they will make answer, but in sooth they
Have a hundred consolations—money, girth and social standing.
We are paupers, slim, neglected—they are portly, rich, respected—
Let us drive our aged rivals from the ball-room to the landing!

Now from evidence internal, the effusion in your journal
Was the handwork of a lady (and exceeding well she sung)
Let her drop tractarian writing—join the great jihads we're fighting—
Swell the war-whoop of the Juniors—shout:—'The Ball-Room for the Young!'