After the Ball

Music & Lyrics by Charles K. Harris (1892)


This number was interpolated into the score of the hit musical A Trip to Chinatown (1892) during its record-setting Broadway run. It was introduced by J. Aldrich Libbey. When Kern and Hammerstein wanted to add period flavor to Show Boat (1927), they used "After the Ball" in the Trocadero scene — where it was performed by Norma Terris.

This is the lyric as it appears in the original 1892 sheet music, published by Charles K Harris (NYC) — he was such a successful songwriter that he owned his own publishing house. We have added some punctuation for the sake of clarity. The inexact rhymes and irregular application of the rhythm to the lyric are as originally published. The entire song is a classic waltz in 3/4 time.

Verse 1:

A little maiden climbed an old man’s knees—
Begged for a story: "Do uncle, please!
Why are you single, why live alone?
Have you no babies, have you no home?"
"I had a sweetheart, years, years ago,
Where she is now, pet, you will soon know;
List to the story, I’ll tell it all:
I believed her faithless after the ball.


After the ball is over, after the break of morn-
After the dancers' leaving; after the stars are gone;
Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all;
Many the hopes that have vanished after the ball.

Verse 2:

Bright lights were flashing in the grand ballroom,
Softly the music playing sweet tunes.
There came my sweetheart, my love, my own,
‘I wish some water; leave me alone.’
When I returned, dear, there stood a man
Kissing my sweetheart as lovers can.
Down fell the glass, pet, broken, that’s all—
Just as my heart was after the ball.


After the ball is over, . . . . . . . . .

Verse 3:

Long years have passed, child, I have never wed,
True to my lost love though she is dead.
She tried to tell me, tried to explain—
I would not listen, pleadings were vain.
One day a letter came from that man;
He was her brother, the letter ran.
That’s why I’m lonely, no home at all—
I broke her heart, pet, after the ball.


After the ball is over, . . . . . . . . .
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