Home > Literature > Eugene Field > Poems > Western and Other Verse >
Mr. Billings of Louisville
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

There are times in one's life which one cannot forget;
And the time I remember 's the evening I met
A haughty young scion of bluegrass renown
Who made my acquaintance while painting the town
A handshake, a cocktail, a smoker, and then
Mr. Billings of Louisville touched me for ten.

There flowed in his veins the blue blood of the South,
And a cynical smile curled his sensuous mouth;
He quoted from Lanier and Poe by the yard,
But his purse had been hit by the war, and hit hard:
I felt that he honored and flattered me when
Mr. Billings of Louisville touched me for ten.

I wonder that never again since that night
A vision of Billings has hallowed my sight;
I pine for the sound of his voice and the thrill
That comes with the touch of a ten-dollar bill:
I wonder and pine; for---I say it again---
Mr. Billings of Louisville touched me for ten.

I 've heard what old Whittier sung of Miss Maud;
But all such philosophy 's nothing but fraud;
To one who 's a bear in Chicago to-day,
With wheat going up, and the devil to pay,
These words are the saddest of tongue or of pen:
"Mr. Billings of Louisville touched me for ten."

 

Back to Eugene Field poems: Western and Other Verse...


Page last updated: 21 January 1999
©1999, Richard J. Yanco