Pine, Rose and Fleur de Lis

by Susie Frances Harrison


 

BOHEMIA


 

Where’s Bohemia?—Anywhere
That Life is full and rich and rare.
       Yours—a verandah,
Mine—an attic;
       Her’s—a salon
5
Epigrammatic;
       Artists—of course;
A writer or two;
       Beer and tobacco,
I fear—both due.
10
       But music is music,
And art is art,
       The Muses are happy,
Sans Mammon and Mart.
       There’s Cordeux, the tenor,
15
You’ve heard him—in halls,
       When the impotent pianist
Accompanies him. “Calls,
       Encores and bravas,”—
Oh! yes, I’ve no doubt!
20
       But hear him to-night
Chez Essarre and without
       That tag, the accompanist,
Then you shall see
       For the first time, my Cordeux,
25
As a god—mon ami!
For he strikes but a chord
        And the women are still,
Julie, Duchesse, La Riva,
       Old Gautier and “Lil.”
30
We don’t Talk in Bohemia,
       Mark that—when you go,
But, eyes, ears—are riveted,
       Heads are bent low.
I’ve seen tears on occasions
35
       When Gounod is sung,
And Godard or Schumann.
       Last night “Renée” hung
To the Princess B’s arm
       As the Vorspiel was played.
40
Her story’s a tragic one.
       Brilliant—arrayed
In her third-act lace costume,
       Yet suffering—apart—
Two children in Russia,
45
       A spouse—without heart,
You know him—Count Dinitry.
       Such women as she
Should’nt marry. Sh! well,
       This—between you and me.
50 
But it’s high time we dined, Carl.
       I’ve two francs to spare.
Come! empty your pockets—
       Three? Lucky, mon cher.
Then, après, we’ll fly
55 
       To Essarre’s charming flat—
You shall hear some real music,
       I promise you that.
And as for the goodness
       Or badness of such
60 
As we’ll meet there—why—Carl,
       It will not matter—much.
Take the average always
       Of women—men too—
If the faulty are legion,
65 
       The good—alas—few,
’Tis out of Bohemia
       The same—take my word!
In the village, the valley,
       The big London herd!
70 
Bohemia’s no worse—
       And no better—I think,
Than the rest of the world.
       There’s Essarre now—in pink,
On her way home to dinner,
75 
       Old Claude by her side.
For ten years he is dumb,
       Before that the chief pride
Of the Comédie Française.
       The generous soul!
80 
That must share with some other
       Her hard-earned rent-roll.
Yet her temper’s not sweet
       If the “supers” say true—
Bah! Who is perfection?
85 
       Not I—and not—you.
Bohemia’s a medley;
       Mad virtues, sane whims;
For Gretchen plays billiards,
       While Mephisto sings hymns.
90 
Faust patiently rocking
       A querulous child,
Is henpecked by Martha
       No matron too mild;
Rich Mdme. La Riva,
95 
       A ballet-girl once,
Drives daily where Costo
       Her coachman confronts.
Old Costo’s her father—
       She meets him at mass,
100 
And keeps him in clothing,
       Is his “kind, clever lass!”
To share in her greatness
       He never aspires;
Gets drunk on her earnings,
105 
       Adores and admires.
We rise in Bohemia
       From all sorts of places,
From alien, mongrel,
       And quite tabooed races.
110 
And where is Bohemia?—Anywhere
       That Life is subtle—sad—Deux Frères
       Provencales—Pierre et George—entrez!

       I had a good meal there yesterday.
 

 


 

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