'Tis years, soubrette, since last we met; And yet--ah, yet, how swift and tender My thoughts go back in time's dull track To you, sweet pink of female gender! I shall not say--though others may-- That time all human joy enhances; But the same old thrill comes to me still With memories of your songs and dances.
Soubrettish ways these latter days Invite my praise, but never get it; I still am true to yours and you-- My record's made, I'll not upset it! The pranks they play, the things they say-- I'd blush to put the like on paper, And I'll avow they don't know how To dance, so awkwardly they caper!
I used to sit down in the pit And see you flit like elf or fairy Across the stage, and I'll engage No moonbeam sprite was half so airy; Lo, everywhere about me there Were rivals reeking with pomatum, And if, perchance, they caught your glance In song or dance, how did I hate 'em!
At half-past ten came rapture--then Of all those men was I most happy, For bottled beer and royal cheer And têtes-à-têtes were on the tapis. Do you forget, my fair soubrette, Those suppers at the Cafe Rector,-- The cosey nook where we partook Of sweeter cheer than fabled nectar?
Oh, happy days, when youth's wild ways Knew every phase of harmless folly! Oh, blissful nights, whose fierce delights Defied gaunt-featured Melancholy! Gone are they all beyond recall, And I--a shade, a mere reflection-- Am forced to feed my spirit's greed Upon the husks of retrospection!
And lo! to-night, the phantom light, That, as a sprite, flits on the fender, Reveals a face whose girlish grace Brings back the feeling, warm and tender; And, all the while, the old-time smile Plays on my visage, grim and wrinkled,-- As though, soubrette, your footfalls yet Upon my rusty heart-strings tinkled!