Ballade of the Girton Girl

Original Text: 
The Poetical Works of Andrew Lang, ed. Mrs. Lang, 4 vols. (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1923): I, 189-90. British Library
2    She is learned in Latin and Greek,
3But lawn tennis she plays with a skirt on
4    That the prudish remark with a shriek.
5In her accents, perhaps, she is weak
6    (Ladies are, one observes with a sigh),
7And in Algebra -- there she's unique,
9She can talk about putting a 'spirt on'
11And she dearly delighteth to flirt on
13Should her bark, by mischance, spring a leak,
14    She can swim as a swallow can fly;
16    But her forte's to evaluate [p].
18Coins, vases, mosaics, the antique,
19Old tiles with the secular dirt on,
20    Old marbles with noses to seek.
22    And she's written on [kev] and on [kai],
23And her service is swift and oblique,
24    But her forte's to evaluate [p].
Princess, like a rose is her cheek,
    And her eyes are as blue as the sky,
And I'd speak, had I courage to speak,
    But -- her forte's to evaluate [p]


1] Girton: a college for women at Cambridge University. Back to Line
8] pi is the ratio of the circumstance of a circle to its diameter, an infinite fraction. Back to Line
10] freak: whim. Back to Line
12] punt: a shallow flat-bottom boat. Back to Line
15] putt with a cleek: in golf, to stroke the golf ball on the green with a long iron that has little loft and a long shaft. Back to Line
17] Scopas: Greek sculptor, 4th-century B.C.
Myrton: the myrtle-berry? Back to Line
21] Cobet: perhaps Professor C. G. Cobet, a 19th-century scholar of Greek at Leiden. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2001