The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018
Vers de société: French for “society verse,” a type of light verse directed at polite society and its concerns. Vers de société frequently makes use of elaborate French forms such as the rondeau and the villanelle. Though characterized by wit or mild satire, vers de société is always polished, elegant, and graceful.
EXAMPLES: Frederick Locker-Lampson’s collection London Lyrics (1857); Walter Learned’s “Time’s Revenge” (1889):
When I was ten and she fifteen —
Ah me, how fair I thought her!
She treated with disdainful mien
The homage that I brought her,
And, in a patronizing way
Would of my shy advances say:
“It’s really quite absurd, you see;
He’s very much too young for me.”
I’m twenty now; she, twenty-five —
Well, well, how old she’s growing!
I fancy that my suit might thrive
If pressed again; but, owing
To great discrepancy in age,
Her marked attentions don’t engage
My young affections, for, you see,
She’s really quite too old for me.