Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
The Looking-glass
 
(A Country Dance)

QUEEN BESS was Harry’s daughter. Stand forward partners all!
In ruff and stomacher and gown
She danced King Philip down-a down,
And left her shoe to show ’twas true
  (The very tune I’m playing you)        5
In Norgem at Brickwall! 1
 
The Queen was in her chamber, and she was middling old,
Her petticoat was satin, and her stomacher was gold.
Backward and forward and sideways did she pass,
Making up her mind to face the cruel looking-glass.        10
The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass
As comely or as kindly or as young as what she was!
 
Queen Bess was Harry’s daughter. Now hand your partners all!
 
The Queen was in her chamber, a-combing of her hair.
There came Queen Mary’s spirit and It stood behind her chair,        15
Singing “Backward and forward and sideways may you pass,
But I will stand behind you till you face the looking-glass.
The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass
As lovely or unlucky or as lonely as I was!”
 
Queen Bess was Harry’s daughter. Now turn your partners all!        20
 
The Queen was in her chamber, a-weeping very sore,
There came Lord Leicester’s spirit and It scratched upon the door,
Singing “Backward and forward and sideways may you pass,
But I will walk beside you till you face the looking-glass.
The cruel looking-glass that will never show a lass,        25
As hard and unforgiving or as wicked as you was!”
 
Queen Bess was Harry’s daughter. Now kiss your partners all!
 
The Queen was in her chamber, her sins were on her head.
She looked the spirits up and down and statelily she said:—
“Backward and forward and sideways though I’ve been,        30
Yet I am Harry’s daughter and I am England’s Queen!”
And she faced the looking-glass (and whatever else there was)
And she saw her day was over and she saw her beauty pass
In the cruel looking-glass, that can always hurt a lass
More hard than any ghost there is or any man there was!        35
 
Note 1. A pair of Queen Elizabeth’s shoes are still at Brickwall House, Northiam, Sussex. [back]
 
 
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