WHEN I was young and had no sense
In far-off Mandalay
I lost my heart to a Burmese girl
As lovely as the day.
Her skin was gold, her hair was jet,
Her teeth were ivory;
I said, “for twenty silver pieces,
Maiden, sleep with me”.
She looked at me, so pure, so sad,
The loveliest thing alive,
And in her lisping, virgin voice,
Stood out for twenty-five.
Where is the irony when the poet himself speaks about it , one begins to wonder. Irony is what emerges in a dramatic situation, not one which is stated to emerge! But that precisely is the irony here, a nasty sting aimed at a system where the prostitute is not in the business for people of libertarian values to come and sympathize with. Her purity and sadness are very inviting to our zealous reformers no doubt but she is not the one to oblige him and fall for his youthful passion for reform. Her helplessness is merely in the poet’s mind because he needs her more and needs her to be helpless. He had no sense and had to lose his heart to young helpless prostitutes in distant Mandalay .How he wished she sobbed out her sad story instead of merely upping her price for sleeping with him from twenty to twenty five!