The Mayfair Love Song

Thackeray’s Mayfair Love Song

William Makepeace Thackeray set large parts of his most famous novel, Vanity Fair: A Novel Without A Hero, in Mayfair, where his now legendary character Becky Sharp got up to all sorts of scheming and mischief.

A lesser known Mayfair offering by W.M. Thackeray is this delightful little poem, The Mayfair Love-Song… and are we not all in love with Mayfair?

Yes, we most certainly are.

Tyne O'Connell Heywood Hill bookshop Mayfair

Tyne O’Connell outside Heywood Hill bookshop, Mayfair

The Mayfair Love-Song

Winter and summer, night and morn,
I languish at this table dark;
My office window has a corn-
er looks into St. James’s Park.
I hear the foot-guards’ bugle-horn,
Their tramp upon parade I mark;
I am a gentleman forlorn,
I am a Foreign-Office Clerk.

My toils, my pleasures, every one,
I find are stale, and dull, and slow;
And yesterday, when work was done,
I felt myself so sad and low,
I could have seized a sentry’s gun
My wearied brains out out to blow.
What is it makes my blood to run?
What makes my heart to beat and glow?

My notes of hand are burnt, perhaps?
Some one has paid my tailor’s bill?
No: every morn the tailor raps;
My I O U’s are extant still.
I still am prey of debt and dun;
My elder brother’s stout and well.
What is it makes my blood to run?
What makes my heart to glow and swell?

I know my chief’s distrust and hate;
He says I’m lazy, and I shirk.
Ah! had I genius like the late
Right Honorable Edmund Burke!
My chance of all promotion’s gone,
I know it is,—he hates me so.
What is it makes my blood to run,
And all my heart to swell and glow?

Why, why is all so bright and gay?
There is no change, there is no cause;
My office-time I found to-day
Disgusting as it ever was.
At three, I went and tried the Clubs,
And yawned and saunter’d to and fro;
And now my heart jumps up and throbs,
And all my soul is in a glow.

At half-past four I had the cab;
I drove as hard as I could go.
The London sky was dirty drab,
And dirty brown the London snow.
And as I rattled in a cant-
er down by dear old Bolton Row,
A something made my heart to pant,
And caused my cheek to flush and glow.

What could it be that made me find
Old Jawkins pleasant at the Club?
Why was it that I laughed and grinned
At whist, although I lost the rub?
What was it made me drink like mad
Thirteen small glasses of Curaco?
That made my inmost heart so glad,
And every fibre thrill and glow?

She’s home again! she’s home, she’s home!
Away all cares and griefs and pain;
I knew she would—she’s back from Rome;
She’s home again! she’s home again!
‘The family’s gone abroad,’ they said,
September last they told me so;
Since then my lonely heart is dead,
My blood I think’s forgot to flow.

She’s home again! away all care!
O fairest form the world can show!
O beaming eyes! O golden hair!
O tender voice, that breathes so low!
O gentlest, softest, purest heart!
O joy, O hope!—’My tiger, ho!’
Fitz-Clarence said; we saw him start—
He galloped down to Bolton Row.

William Makepeace Thackeray