My Rival "The Blush That Flies At Seventeen Is Fixed At Forty-nine"
by Rudyard Kipling

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"The Blush That Flies At Seventeen Is Fixed At Forty-nine"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In "My Rival" Kipling tells the tale of a young girl (seventeen) who, because of the sophistication and charm of an older woman (forty-nine), wishes that she could be in her place. Instead of the concentration on the loss of innocence which is the usual treatment of this situation, Kipling shows the reverse–the folly of youthful deception. The young girl goes to "concert, party, ball" to receive no attention at all from the young men. They are too busy paying court to the older woman. The young men are, like the young girl, aware of the glamor of experience. The poem ends on a happy note of consolation, however, when the young girl realizes that when she is forty-nine, the older woman will be a faded eighty-one!

I cannot check my girlish blush,
My colour comes and goes.
I redden to my finger tips,
And sometimes to my nose.
But She is white where white should be,
And red where red should shine.
The blush that flies at seventeen
Is fixed at forty-nine.