Poems and Essays

by Joseph Howe




Oh! were you at the Fancy Ball,
    Or did the pastime see, man—
The stately old Masonic Hall
    Lit up with life and glee, man?
How lived you through the waltz’s whirl,
    Or stood the Polka’s tread, man—
Is not some gay, bewitching girl,
    Still dancing in your head, man?

I’ve just escaped, as well I might,
    I fled the scene uproarious—
As many a stalwart, thirsty wight, [Page 170]
    Was fast becoming glorious,
With life I fled—but jupons court,
    Symmetric limbs revealing,
And busts, where Love himself might sport,
    Yet through my brain are stealing.

The music’s wild voluptuous swell
    My waking senses scatters,
And my poor heart, by many a Belle,
    Is torn all into tatters.
I’ve kept the field, with sword in hand,
    When bullets round me hurtled;
But how the devil could I stand
    Limbs so adroitly kirtled.

Eyes “raining influence,” were there,
    And cheeks that shamed the roses;
With sylph-like forms, surpassing fair,
    Small feet, and powdered noses.
Old maids, well rouged, I might defy,
    Their airs and vain pretences—
From Mrs. R’s bewitching eye
    The soul has no defences.

The Quakeress—a thought too old,
    Howe’er the spirit move her—
But Jessica’s bright eyes are roll’d
    And all the world must love her.
Of little girls, a score I passed,
    They put me in a flutter,
With budding charms, expanding fast,
    They “smelt of bread and butter.” [Page 171]

A Knight of Malta struts along,
    And makes the heathen stagger—
I’ll back against his weapon strong,
    That dark eyed maiden’s dagger.
Sarmatia’s widow, young and fair,
    Could I her fate control—
I’d revel in those beauties rare,
    Nor rove from Pole to Pole.

Bluff Harry, every inch a King,
    A pair of black eyes prizes,
And quits, full oft, the glittering ring,
    And to the dais rises.
Crush’d by his helmet, staggers round
    The Trooper young and slender,
And ever looking on the ground,
    Revolves the young Pretender.

Prince Hal, with sprightly step, goes down,
    And well sustains his part—
But girls beware, who stole a Crown,
    Perhaps may steal a heart;
A Cossack bold, with visage grim,
    Looks at the dance Shakspearian,
When supper’s served—just look at him,
    He’d pass for a Hungerian.

Good Fisherman, withy sky-blue shirt,
    Thy net is wanted here,
To guard each enterprising Flirt
    From “loose fish” wandering near. [Page 172]
But faith I’m off—my brave Maltese
    Before I quit the scene,
Some scarlet skiffs are on the seas,
    Just watch that Algerine. [Page 173]