Thé Dansant, 1895 by Mitchell Geller

Thé Dansant, 1895

The crisp eroticism of the waltz
is infinitely sexier to me,
(although admittedly inclined to schmaltz)
than tangos from the Argentine could be.
The strong 3/4 of Lehár and of Strauss—
libido under bombazine and lace:
tumescent tunes—unlikely that they’d dowse
the flames that flush décolleté and face.
A final sweep around the ballroom floor—
the swelling horns, the throbbing of the strings.
A dance-card filled: no room for any more,
and febrile words that make a heart grow wings.
Her breathlessness required smelling salts—
I blame the man, the music and the waltz.


by Mitchell Geller

Editor’s Note: As a lifelong reader and writer of romance novels, an amateur ballroom dancer, and a lover of classical music, this sonnet is an absolute delight to read.

6 thoughts on “Thé Dansant, 1895 by Mitchell Geller

  1. I stumble over the penultimate line which is missing a foot. It could easily be cured by replacing “required” with “requiring”. But perhaps it was done deliberately –to evoke the lady tripping in the dance?

    I think the “tumescent tunes” and “swelling horns” push the poem away from wry smile and more toward schoolboy snigger.


    • Sorry. I assumed that “required” was a 2 syllable word, whereas it may be pronounced with 3 and clearly is in this line. So my first comment is off the mark.


  2. Thank you for your comments. What I find really off the mark is your describing of “tumescent tunes” and “swelling horns,” two rather benign phrases, as even remotely suggestive of “a schoolboy snigger,” a
    rather prurient perception, which would seem to me comes more from the mind of the reader than that of the poet.


    • The author describes the Waltz as ‘erotic’ and ‘sexy’, He/she uses words like ‘libido’ and ‘decollete’. The poet is to describing a sexual frisson. The word tumescent is clearly not innocent.or accidental.

      The dictionary definition of tumescence is the” quality or state of being tumescent or swollen. Tumescence usually refers to the normal engorgement with blood of the erectile tissues, marking sexual excitation, and possible readiness for sexual activity”

      And when this is followed by a reference to ‘swelling horns’ I can’t do much else but snigger.


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