Next Poem

The English flapper

Anthony M. Ludovici

The New Age 26, 1919–20, p. 84
Reprinted in Too Old for Dolls, pp. 5–7

  From Nature's anvil hot she hails,
        The forge still glowing on her cheek.
Untamed as yet, Life still prevails
        Within her breast and fain would speak.

But all the elfs upon the plain,
        And in the arbour where she lolls,
Repeat the impudent refrain:
        Too young for babes, too old for dolls.

Her fingers deft have guessed the knack
        Of making each advantage tell:
Her hat, her hair still down her back,
        Her frocks and muff of mighty spell;

Her springtide "tailor-mades" quite plain:
        In summer-time her parasols;
Each eloquent with the refrain:
        Too young for babes, too old for dolls.

Behold with what grave interest
        She looks at all, or hind or squire;
In truth more keenly than the best
        Matriculation marks require.

She's told to learn from all she sees;
        To watch the seasons, how they go,
And note the burgeoning of trees,
        Or bulbs and pansies, how they grow.

"Enough that they are fair!" she cries;
        "Why should I learn how lilies blow?"
And, dropping botany, she sighs
        For some new flounce or furbelow.

The murmur of the woodland wild,
        The sound of courting birds that sing,
Are sweeter music to this child
        Than all piano practising.

She reads of love time and again,
        And writes sad lays and barcarolles,
All emphasising the refrain:
        Too young for babes, too old for dolls.

And, truth to tell, the world's a thing
        Of wonder for a life that's new,
And tremblingly her passions sing
        Their praise within her father's pew.

Magnificats or credos sung,
        Thus oft acquire a deeper note,
When they're intoned by voices young,
        Or issue from a virgin's throat.

For all the world's a wondrous thing,
        And magic to the life that's new,
And heartily her voice-chords ring
        Beside her father's in his pew.

Who sees her clad in muslin white,
        With eyes downcast and manner prim,
May well be minded by the sight,
        Of angels pure or cherubim.

Yet, oh, the secret lusts of life!
        The thrills and throbs but half divined;
The future and the great word "Wife,"
        Which ofttimes occupy her mind!

The wicked thoughts that come and go,
        The dreams that leave her soul aghast,
And make her long to hold and know
        The entertaining truth at last!

But still the elfs upon the plain,
        And in the arbour where she lolls,
With merry gesture cry again:
        Too young for babes, too old for dolls.



Next Poem