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Poems About Paris

Table of Contents

  1. Pictures of Paris by Marc Antoine Madelaine Désaugiers
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  1. Pictures of Paris

    by Marc Antoine Madelaine Désaugiers. Translated by John Oxenford

    I. At Five in the Morning

    Now the darkness breaks,
    Flight it slowly takes;
    Now the morning wakes,
    Roofs around to gild.
    Now the day 's in sight,
    Lamps give paler light,
    Houses grow more white;
    Markets all are filled.

    Prom La Vilette
    Comes young Susette,
    Her flowers to set
    Upon the quay.
    His donkey Pierre
    Is driving near,
    From Vincenues here
    His fruit brings he.

    Florists ope their eyes,
    Oysterwomen rise,
    Grocers, who are wise,
    Start from bed at dawn;
    Artisans now toil,
    Poets paper soil,
    Pedants eyesight spoil,
    Idlers only yawn.

    I see Javotte,
    Who cries, "Carotte!"
    And sells a lot
    Of parsnips cheap.
    Her voice so shrill
    The air can fill,
    And drown it will
    The chimney-sweep.

    Now the gamester 's seen;
    With a haggard mien,
    And his pocket clean,
    Swearing, home he goes;
    While the drunkard lies
    On his path, more wise,
    Making music rise
    From his blushing nose.

    In yonder house
    They still carouse,
    Change loving vows,
    And sing and play.
    Through all the night,
    In sorry plight,
    A wretched wight
    Before it lay.

    Now the patient rings, Till the servant brings Draughts and other things, Such as doctors know;
    While his lady fair Feigns with modest air (Love is lurking there!) For a bath to go.

    Love's pilgrims creep
    With purpose deep,
    And measured step
    Where none can see;
    The diligence
    Is leaving France,
    To seek Mayence
    Or Italy.

    "Dear papa, adieu,
    Good by, mother, too,
    And the same to you,
    Every little one."
    Now the horses neigh,
    Now the whip 's in play,
    Windows ring away,
    Out of sight they 're gone.

    In every place
    New things I trace,
    No empty place
    Can now be found.
    But great and small,
    And short and tall,
    Tag rag and all,
    In crowds abound.

    Ne'er the like has been;
    Now they all begin
    Such a grievous din,
    They will split my head;
    How I feel it ache
    With the noise they make;—
    Paris is awake,
    So I '11 go to bed.

    II. At Five in the Afternoon

    Now the motley throng,
    As it rolls along
    With its torrents strong,
    Seems to ebb away.
    Business-time has past,
    Dinner comes at last,
    Cloths are spreading fast,—
    Night succeeds to day.

    Here woodcock fine,
    I can divine,
    On fowl some dine,
    And turkey too.
    While here a lot
    Of cabbage hot
    All in the pot
    With beef they stew.

    Now the parasite
    Hastes with footstep light,
    Where the fumes invite
    Of a banquet rare.
    Yonder wretch I see,
    For a franc dines he,
    But in debt he'll be
    For his sorry fare.

    Hark, what a noise!
    Sure every voice
    Its force employs
    To swell the sound.
    Here softest strains
    Tell lover's pains;
    There proudly reigns
    The drunken round.

    Dinner's over, so
    To cafés they go,
    While their faces glow;
    Then elate with wine
    Yon gourmand so great
    Falls, and with his weight
    Crushes one, whom fate
    Suffered not to dine.

    The mocha steams,
    The punch-bowl gleams
    And perfume seems
    To fill the air.
    "Ice! ice!" they call,
    And "Coffee" bawl,
    "Could you at all
    The paper spare?"

    Journals they read o'er,
    Liquors down they pour,
    Or they sit before
    Tables spread for play.
    While with watchful eyes,
    And with aspect wise,
    Stands to criticise
    The habitué.

    There tragedy
    They go to see,
    Here comedy
    Asserts her reign;
    A juggler here,
    A drama there,
    Your purse would clear,
    Nor sues in vain.

    Now the lamps are bright,
    Chandeliers alight,
    Shops are quite a sight
    While with wicked eye
    Stands the little queen
    Of the magazine,
    And with roguish mien
    Tempts the folks to buy.

    A nook obscure
    Will some allure,
    Who there secure
    May play their parts.
    There thieves at will
    Their pockets fill;
    And lovers steal
    The ladies' hearts.

    Jeannot, and Claude, aud Blaise,
    Nicolas and Nicaise,
    Who all five from Falaise
    To Paris lately came;
    Admire with upturned faces,
    Fast rooted to their places,
    Paillasse's strange grimaces,
    Naught paying for the same.

    Her labors done,
    Her dress put on,
    To dance has gone
    The gay grisette.
    Her grandma dear
    And neighbor near,
    Their souls will cheer
    With cool piquette.

    Now 't is ten o'clock,
    Now against a rock,
    With a heavy shock,
    Three new plays have struck.
    From the doors the mob
    Rushes,—mind your fob,—
    Gentlefolks who rob
    Try just now their luck.

    "St. Jean," I say,
    "Quick,—no delay!
    My cab this way!"
    The livery all
    With wine accursed
    Could almost burst,
    But still athirst,
    From taverns crawl.

    Carriages with pride
    Take their lords inside,
    Then away they glide
    In a solemn row.
    Cabs retreat of course,
    While the drivers hoarse
    Swear with all their force,
    As they backwards go.

    Hark! what a rout!
    They push about,
    And loudly shout,
    "Take care, take care!"
    Some hurry, yet
    Are soon upset,
    Across some get
    And home repair.

    Trade begins to drop,
    Finding custom stop,
    Tradesmen shut up shop;
    Here 's a contrast strange!
    Noisy thoroughfare,
    Crowd-encumbered square,
    To a desert bare
    Now is doomed to change.

    A form I see
    Approaching me,
    "Qui vive!" says he;
    At once I shrink;
    As he draws nigh
    Away go I,
    'T is best to fly
    All scrapes, I think.

    Now there 's nauglit in sight
    Save the lamps' pale light,—
    Scattered through the night,
    Timidly they peep;
    These too disappear,
    Nothing far or near
    But the breeze I hear,—
    All are fast asleep.
    Marc Antolne Madelaine Besaugiers.