The Lost Repartee

Oh! bitter the grief that it causes to me,

The thought of that wonderful, lost repartee.

In its youth and its beauty it fled from my brain,

And never, I fear me, ah! never again,

If I wait all my life, from today till I die,

Shall I find such a chance for a crushing reply.

Its wording was mild, but that rendered it worse.

It was crisply satirical, bitterly terse.

And it fled! Yes it fled! In my hour of need

From my agonised brain did it coyly recede,

Returning no more with its luminous ray

Till the critical moment had perished for aye.

Oh! let lovers lament of love's terrible pangs,

Let hunters talk darkly of tigers and fangs,

Let the gambler repine o'er the loss of his cash

Let the banker hold forth on the woes of a crash,

Let the penniless debtor dilate on how ill

He feels, when a dun ambles in with a bill.

Let the footpad explain all the feelings that gnaw

His heart, when he's safe in the hands of the Law,

Let ministers prate of the worries of state,

But none of these woes – though they're all of them great –

Can compare with the grief that is harassing me

For the loss of that priceless, superb repartee.

First published in Fun Magazine, January 5, 1901.