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.