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At somebody's expense, goes up so frank a laugh?

As though they held the corn, and left us only chaff

From garners crammed and closed. And we indeed are clever If we get grain as good, by threshing straw forever!

VIII.

Still, truants as they are and purpose yet to be, That nowise needs forbid they venture

as you see

To cross confine, approach the once familiar roof
O' the kindly race, their flight estranged: half stand aloof,
Half sidle up, press near, and proffer wares for sale

In their phrase, make, in ours, white levy of black mail.
They, of the wild, require some touch of us the tame,
Since clothing, meat and drink, mean money all the same.

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IX.

- fleece

If hunger, proverbs say, allures the wolf from wood, Much more the bird must dare a dash at something good: Must snatch up, bear away in beak, the trifle-treasure To wood and wild, and then O how enjoy at leisure! Was never tree-built nest, you climbed and took, of bird, (Rare city-visitant, talked of, scarce seen or heard,) But, when you would dissect the structure, piece by piece, You found, enwreathed amid the country-product, And feather, thistle-fluffs and bearded windlestraws Some shred of foreign silk, unravelling of gauze, Bit, maybe, of brocade, mid fur and thistle-down: Filched plainly from mankind, dear tribute paid by town, Which proved how oft the bird had plucked up heart of grace, Swooped down at waif and stray, made furtively our place Pay tax and toll, then borne the booty to enrich

Her paradise i' the waste; the how and why of which,
That is the secret, there the mystery that stings!

X.

For, what they traffic in, consists of just the things

We,
proud ones who so scorn dwellers without the pale,
Bateleurs, baladines, white leviers of black-mail,
I say, they sell what we most pique us that we keep!
How comes it, all we hold so dear they count so cheap?

XI.

What price should you impose, for instance, on repute,
Good fame, your own good fame and family's to boot?
Stay start of quick moustache, arrest the angry rise

Of eyebrow! All I asked is answered by surprise.
Now tell me are you worth the cost of a cigar?
Go boldly, enter booth, disburse the coin at bar
Of doorway where presides the master of the troupe,
And forthwith you survey his Graces in a group,
Live Picture, picturesque no doubt and close to life:
His sisters, right and left; the Grace in front, his wife.
Next, who is this performs the feat of the Trapeze?
Lo, she is launched, look ―fie, the fairy! - how she flees

O'er all those heads thrust back, -mouths, eyes, one gape and

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No scrap of skirt impedes free passage through the air,
Till, plumb on the other side, she lights and laughs again,
That fairy-form, whereof each muscle, nay, each vein
The curious may inspect, his daughter that he sells
Each rustic for five sous. Desiderate aught else

O' the vender? As you leave his show, why, joke the man!
"You cheat your six-legged sheep, I recollect, began
Both life and trade, last year, trimmed properly and clipt,
As the Twin-headed Babe, and Human Nondescript !
What does he care? You paid his price, may pass your jest.
So values he repute, good fame, and all the rest!

XII.

But try another tack; say: "I indulge caprice,

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Who am Don and Duke, and Knight, beside, o' the Golden

Fleece,

And, never mind how rich. Abandon this career!

Have hearth and home, nor let your womankind appear
Without as multiplied a coating as protects

An onion from the eye! Become, in all respects,
God-fearing householder, subsistent by brain-skill,
Hand-labor; win your bread whatever way you will,
So it be honestly, and, while I have a purse,

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Means shall not lack"

curse

That ever rolled from lip.

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his thanks will be the roundest

XIII.

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Now, what is it?

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The question heartens so this losel that he spurns
All we so prize? I want, put down in black and white,
What compensating joy, unknown and infinite,
Turns lawlessness to law, makes destitution - wealth,
Vice- virtue, and disease of soul and body - health?

XIV.

Ah, the slow shake of head, the melancholy smile,

The sigh almost a sob! What's wrong, was right erewhile?
Why are we two at once such ocean-width apart?

Pale fingers press my arm, and sad eyes probe my heart.
Why is the wife in trouble?

XV.

This way, this way, Fifine!

Here's she, shall make my thoughts be surer what they mean!
First let me read the signs, portray you past mistake
The gypsy's foreign self, no swarth our sun could bake.
Yet where's a woolly trace, degrades the wiry hair?
And note the Greek-nymph nose, and — oh, my Hebrew pair
Of eye and eye-o'erarched by velvet of the mole -
That swim as in a sea, that dip and rise and roll,
Spilling the light around! While either ear is cut
Thin as a dusk-leaved rose carved from a cocoa-nut.
And then, her neck! now, grant you had the power to deck,
Just as your fancy pleased, the bistre-length of neck,
Could lay, to shine against its shade, a moon-like row
Of pearl, each round and white as bubble, Cupids blow
Big out of mother's milk, - what pearl-moon would surpass
That string of mock-turquoise, those almandines of glass,
Where girlhood terminates? for with breasts'-birth commence
The boy, and page-costume, till pink and impudence
End admirably all: complete the creature, trips

Our way now, brings sunshine upon her spangled hips,

As here she fronts us full, with pose half-frank, half-fierce!

XVI.

Words urged in vain, Elvire! You waste your quarte and

tierce,

Lunge at a phantom here, try fence in fairy-land.

For me, I own defeat, ask but to understand

The acknowledged victory of whom I call my queen,

Sexless and bloodless sprite: though mischievous and mean,
Yet free and flower-like too, with loveliness for law,
And self-sustainment made morality.

XVII.

A flaw

Do you account i' the lily, of lands which travellers know,
That, just as golden gloom supersedes Northern snow
I' the chalice, so, about each pistil, spice is packed,

Deliriously-drugged scent, in lieu of odor lacked,
With us, by bee and moth, their banquet to enhance
At morn and eve, when dew, the chilly sustenance,
Needs mixture of some chaste and temperate perfume?
I ask, is she in fault who guards such golden gloom,
Such dear and damning scent, by who cares what devices,
And takes the idle life of insects she entices

When, drowned to heart's desire, they satiate the inside
O' the lily, mark her wealth and manifest her pride?

XVIII.

But, wiser, we keep off, nor tempt the acrid juice;
Discreet we peer and praise, put rich things to right use.
No flavorous venomed bell, - the rose it is, I wot,
Only the rose, we pluck and place, unwronged a jot,
No worse for homage done by every devotee,

I' the proper loyal throne, on breast where rose should be.
Or if the simpler sweets, we have to choose among,
Would taste between our teeth, and give its toy the tongue, –
O gorgeous poison-plague, on thee no hearts are set!

We gather daisy meek, or maiden violet:

I think it is Elvire we love, and not Fifine.

XIX.

"How does she make my thoughts be sure of what they mean?"

Judge and be just! Suppose, an age and time long past
Renew for our behoof one pageant more, the last

O' the kind, sick Louis liked to see defile between
Him and the yawning grave, its passage served to screen.
With eye as gray as lead, with cheek as brown as bronze,
Here where we stand, shall sit and suffer Louis Onze:
The while from yonder tent parade forth, not oh, no
Bateleurs, baladines! but range themselves a-row
Those well-sung women-worthies whereof loud fame still finds
Some echo linger faint, less in our hearts than minds.

XX.

See, Helen! pushed in front o' the world's worst night and storm,

By Lady Venus' hand on shoulder: the sweet form

Shrinkingly prominent, though mighty, like a moon
Outbreaking from a cloud, to put harsh things in tune,
And magically bring mankind to acquiesce

In its own ravage, call no curse upon, but bless
(Beldame, a moment since) the outbreaking beauty, now,

That casts o'er all the blood a candor from her brow.
See, Cleopatra bared, the entire and sinuous wealth
O' the shining shape; each orb of indolent ripe health,
Captured, just where it finds a fellow-orb as fine

I' the body traced about by jewels which outline,
Fire-frame, and keep distinct, perfections - lest they melt
To soft smooth unity ere half their hold be felt:

Yet, o'er that white and wonder, a soul's predominance
I' the head so high and haught - except one thievish glance,
From back of oblong eye, intent to count the slain.

Hush, ―O I know, Elvire! Be patient, more remain!
What say you to Saint? . . . Pish! Whatever Saint you please,
Cold-pinnacled aloft o' the spire, prays calm the seas
From Pornic Church, and oft at midnight (peasants say)
Goes walking out to save from shipwreck: well she may!
For think how many a year has she been conversant
With nought but winds and rains, sharp courtesy and scant
O' the wintry snow that coats the pent-house of her shrine,
Covers each knee, climbs near, but spares the smile benign
Which seems to say, "I looked for scarce so much from earth!
She follows, one long thin pure finger in the girth

O' the girdle whence the folds of garment, eye and eye,
Besprent with fleur-de-lys, flow down and multiply
Around her feet, and one, pressed hushingly to lip:
As if, while thus we made her march, some foundering ship
Might miss her from her post, nearer to God halfway

In heaven, and she thought, "Who that treads earth can pray?
I doubt if even she, tho unashamed! thovgh sure,

She must have stripped herself only to clothe the poor."

XXI.

This time, enough's a feast, not one more form, Elvire! Provided you allow that, bringing up the rear

O' the bevy I am loth to

by one bird- curtail,

First note may lead to last, an octave crown the scale,

And this feminity be followed- do not flout!

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By who concludes the masque with curtsey, smile and pout, Submissive-mutinous ? No other than Fifine

Points toe, imposes haunch, and pleads with tambourine!

XXII.

"Well, what's the meaning here, what does the masque intend,

Which, unabridged, we saw file past us, with no end
Of fair ones, till Fifine came, closed the catalogue?"

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