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Squire Chivey's dance A sunset song


From shady Mayfair and the clangorous Babel

          Where fairy fans flutter and Fashion o'erflows,

Where to Lady Lothair or to languorous Mabel

          Court exquisites utter their polished bon-mots,

          And chaperons mutter tales "under the rose;"

Where rarest Renouf, with white blossoms foaming,

          Scarce scares the dull ghost of a stifled yawn, -

A sweet change was ours, that June night in the gloaming,

          At Squire Chivey's midsummer dance on the lawn.

At rosewood Erard beamed benignant Aunt Mary,

          And tinkled a tune in the drawing-room bay, -

Just under the cage of Priscilla's canary,

          Who woke up to whistle, and thought it was day, -

          And to sweet "Soldier Laddie" we trundled away;

While the Rector and Granny played chess in a corner,

          But looked at us more than at castle or pawn;

For what cynic could "sit in the seat of the scorner"

          At Squire Chivey's midsummer dance on the lawn ?

The village bells chimed a "good night" through the clover,

          With fresh dewy fragrance the sweet-briar was wet,

As "young men and maidens" were practising over

          No dainty cotillon or pert pirouette,

          But West Country tunes Town had made us forget;

And Bob challenged Bella to race round the beeches,

          And Bella ran off like a frightened fawn,

And came back, with cheeks like our Devonshire peaches,

          To Squire Chivey's midsummer dance on the lawn.

Grave Grandpapa stopped his discussions on cacti

          With Admital Ferne's horticultural dame,

And began his encomiums "temporis acti"

          When beaux at Vauxhall danced the night without shame,

          Or trim Taglioni set Strand in a flame, -

But joined in our final "Sir Roger" quiter neatly,

          And swore that "Gadzooks ! he could foot it till dawn,

When spruce George was Regent gay bucks tripped as teatly

          As at Squire Chivey's midsummer dance on the lawn !"

From dreary ennui and importunate Babel,

          With its languid dead level of tiresome prose,

Where weary hours flee, and unfortunate Mabel

          Keeps wishing Sir Neville would only "propose,"

          And he curses the revel and sulkily goes, -

A sweet change is ours, when by delicate fingers

          The quaint lamps are lighted and curtains are drawn,

And only a musical memory lingers

          Of Squire Chivey's midsummer dance on the lawn.


Herbert Bentley Freeman

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012