Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A HOP AT SARATOGA, by LEVI BISHOP



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A HOP AT SARATOGA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The hall is ample; gilded arches shine
Last Line: That cheerful and majestic measure.
Subject(s): Beauty; Soul; Time


The hall is ample; gilded arches shine;
Columns and decorated walls combine
To move the soul and swell the heart:
The guests are many; salutations gay;
And charms as lovely as the flowers of May,
As quick they fade, as quick depart.

Against the gorgeous lights suspended high,
The diamonds flash that rival maiden's eye:
In dress what medley shades! The green,
The black, the red, the violet, the blue,
The crimson, white and pink, all fashioned true
To native taste; a fairy scene:

And (speaking in a whisper) we may say,
Many a model bust decollete,
And sweeping train and farthingale;
And "rats" and ample "water-falls" are there;
And glossy locks of false or colored hair;
And rouge to hide complexion pale.

Behold the forms! The tall as Teneriffe;
The medium -- graceful as the dancing skiff
Upon the undulating tides;
The fleshy, robust, muscular and slim;
The dwarf; the short and thick, but neat and trim
As grace itself; the sylph that glides.

The faces! Broad and oval; laughing, plumpy;
The long, the "hatchet," and the short and stumpy;
The solemn, "lantern-jawed," and sainted;
The intellectual, with the look refined;
The "tallow," with the "stolid" well combined;
The merely plaster-paris painted.

The noses! From the bony, peaked, prim,
Through choicest model of the Grecian slim,
To purple, pugilistic "mug"
And from the Roman, boldly arching high,
Through flat and broad, or twisted all awry,
To short upturned, but jolly pug.

Tremendous whiskers! O ye Turkish race,
With shame behold, and shave thy hairy face!
The gray, the brown, the sandy, brindle;
The long and bushy, and the short and thin;
"Divine imperial" from the lip to chin;
The moustache twisted to a spindle.

The ties and chokers! Long the weary hours
He spent before his glass, and yet the powers
Prolonged the struggle ever new;
The hateful knot is tied and tied again,
And still he labors on with might and main,
Till full perfection springs to view.

The characters! From mincing, nipping miss,
With barely sense to simper -- very -- yes,
To scented fop with grinning glee;
The prude of forty with affected glances,
The matron with an eye to all the chances,
The bride that is, or is to be.

The coy advance of swain, sly ogle meets;
Young heart to beating heart responsive beats --
Leer not, ye roguish looker on; --
The lips disclaim, while hearts betray the sigh;
Consenting fathers turn aside the eye;
Avaunt, thou rival! Haste, begone!

But see that eye -- that languish! That success
In curls and tints! Voluptuous loveliness!
Artfully artless smile -- inspired!
Enthusiastic suitors swarm about her;
While envious rivals curl the lip and flout her;
How perilous -- to be admired!

Such airs and affectations! Well, 'tis clear
As sun at noon, the fatal day is near,
When "Captain Snipe" and "Colonel Grand,"
With painted dolls may mince, and ape, and smirk,
And rush without restraint to -- a la Turque,
Throughout this "broad and happy land."

Societies we organize, and lend
The means, and far away the mission send
The world to christianize and save;
While at our very hearths we should begin;
Here follies riot run, and social sin,
That drag to shame and to the grave.

But what avail in lofty tone to preach?
Or who, save high Omnipotence can teach
The Mississippi flood to stay?
The mighty shock of civil war is past;
Its dire effects in social life will last,
Till years on years have rolled away.

Begone the serious! Let the dance begin:
Softly the animating violin,
The warbling flute, the heavy bass,
The harp, unite in one voluptuous call,
To "Take your partners for cotillion," all,
Or in the dizzy waltz to chase.

With bow and winning smile, no pen can tell,
And "Will you dance with me, sweet mademoiselle?"
"O no, dear Sir. it cannot be;
I am engaged at least four sets ahead."
"Then say the fifth?" That face, how crimson red!
As she responds, "I -- I -- will see."

Now fairy forms, and sparkling eyes so bright,
And smiling faces, gaily all unite,
In one harmonious mazy chime;
And circling, bending, undulating swell
Of merry dance, with its bewitching spell,
Is beauty set to measured time.

And can we doubt that this enchanting scene
To virtue tends? -- as blushing here between
The tender child and ripening years,
These happy loved ones ply their nimble feet,
And whirl, and laugh, and prattle on so sweet,
And banish care and all their tears.

Behold the graceful movements of the dance!
What other graces do they not enhance?
Exhilarating social pleasure!
Let cynics frown and bigots chide their fill,
The reason, common sense, approve it still --
That cheerful and majestic measure.





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