Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SALLE MONTESQUIEU; A PARISIAN REMINISCENCE, by WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SALLE MONTESQUIEU; A PARISIAN REMINISCENCE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: From the doors of the trois freres provenceaux
Last Line: And her shrine is the salle montesquieu!
Subject(s): Charm; Paris, France; Women


FROM the doors of the Trois Frères Provençaux,
Rich realm, where the code is the Carte,
And the cooks are the monarchs supreme,
And the dishes the triumphs of art,
I sauntered, digestively slow,
Through the lines of the dazzling Arcade,
And forth to the Rue de Valois,
And the gloom of its parvenu shade;
Thence on, in the dusk of the night,
Through quartier, passage, and rue,
Till I chanced where the gas-lamps blazed bright,
In front of the Salle Montesquieu!

The façade loomed large in the dark,
The doors opened wide on the hall,
And forth, from the merry within,
To the street came the sound of the ball;
The jeune gens were flocking in crowds,
With each the grisette of his taste,
The knights of the Joinville cravat,
And the dames of the miniature waist;
I followed their footsteps, delighted,
And paid at the door my ten sous,
As set forth in the bill that invited
"All the world to the Salle Montesquieu!"

The blaze from the chandelier poured
On the crowd as they wandered at will,
Now, thronged in the gay promenade,
And now, in the mazy quadrille;
In full flourish the orchestra played,
As scorning a moment's repose,
Incessant the scrape of the fiddles,
Tremendous the crash at the close!
The dancers kept up with its notes,
Such contortions Saint Vitus ne'er knew,
As astonished my wondering eyes
On the floor of the Salle Montesquieu!

How bright were those beaming black eyes,
Those smiles and those dimples how sweet!
How the roses bloomed fair on each cheek,
And the ringlets waved wild in the heat!
What odds if the color was rouge,
What odds if the tresses were false,
As they gleamed in the polka's gay maze,
Or whirled in the magical waltz?
Farewell to the circles refined,
Where beauty is tiresome and true,
And hail to the flashier charms
Of the belles of the Salle Montesquieu!

Alas for the faded passées!
On back benches unnoticed they sit,
While before them the belles of to-day
In the pride of their merriment flit;
Alas for the charms that have fled,
For the wrinkles that show in their place,
For the voice that has ceased to allure,
And the smile that has changed to grimace!
In vain are pomatum and paint
The graces of youth to renew,
'Tis the new generation that reigns
To-night in the Salle Montesquieu!

'Tis la jeune France that flourishes here,
She has found the arcanum at last,
As forlorn as the faded coquette,
In her eyes are the forms of the Past;
Religion is tiresome and old,
The day of morality's done,
A bas with the troublesome prude,
And vive the bold, witty Lionne!
What's liberty worth with restrictions?
From the tricolor banish the blue;
The refuge of Freedom is France,
And her shrine is the Salle Montesquieu!





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