Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Oh, it's pleasant sitting here,
Seeing all the people pass;
You beside your bock of beer,
I behind my demi-tasse.

Chatting of no matter what.

You the Mummer, I the Bard;
Oh, it's jolly, is it not? --
Sitting on the Boulevard.


More amusing than a book,
If a chap has eyes to see;
For, no matter where I look,
Stories, stories jump at me.

Moving tales my pen might write;
Poems plain on every face;
Monologues you could recite
With inimitable grace.


(Ah! Imagination's power)
See yon demi-mondaine there,
Idly toying with a flower,
Smiling with a pensive air .
.
.

Well, her smile is but a mask,
For I saw within her muff
Such a wicked little flask:
Vitriol -- ugh! the beastly stuff.


Now look back beside the bar.

See yon curled and scented beau,
Puffing at a fine cigar --
Sale espèce de maquereau.

Well (of course, it's all surmise),
It's for him she holds her place;
When he passes she will rise,
Dash the vitriol in his face.


Quick they'll carry him away,
Pack him in a Red Cross car;
Her they'll hurry, so they say,
To the cells of St.
Lazare.

What will happen then, you ask?
What will all the sequel be?
Ah! Imagination's task
Isn't easy .
.
.
let me see .
.
.


She will go to jail, no doubt,
For a year, or maybe two;
Then as soon as she gets out
Start her bawdy life anew.

He will lie within a ward,
Harmless as a man can be,
With his face grotesquely scarred,
And his eyes that cannot see.


Then amid the city's din
He will stand against a wall,
With around his neck a tin
Into which the pennies fall.

She will pass (I see it plain,
Like a cinematograph),
She will halt and turn again,
Look and look, and maybe laugh.


Well, I'm not so sure of that --
Whether she will laugh or cry.

He will hold a battered hat
To the lady passing by.

He will smile a cringing smile,
And into his grimy hold,
With a laugh (or sob) the while,
She will drop a piece of gold.


"Bless you, lady," he will say,
And get grandly drunk that night.

She will come and come each day,
Fascinated by the sight.

Then somehow he'll get to know
(Maybe by some kindly friend)
Who she is, and so .
.
.
and so
Bring my story to an end.


How his heart will burst with hate!
He will curse and he will cry.

He will wait and wait and wait,
Till again she passes by.

Then like tiger from its lair
He will leap from out his place,
Down her, clutch her by the hair,
Smear the vitriol on her face.


(Ah! Imagination rare)
See .
.
.
he takes his hat to go;
Now he's level with her chair;
Now she rises up to throw.
.
.
.

God! and she has done it too .
.
.

Oh, those screams; those hideous screams!
I imagined and .
.
.
it's true:
How his face will haunt my dreams!

What a sight! It makes me sick.

Seems I am to blame somehow.

Garcon, fetch a brandy quick .
.
.

There! I'm feeling better now.

Let's collaborate, we two,
You the Mummer, I the Bard;
Oh, what ripping stuff we'll do,
Sitting on the Boulevard!
- Robert William Service, "On the Boulevard"

8 comments:

FreeThinke said...

Another incarnation, perhaps, of "The Lady That's Known As Lou?"

FreeThinke said...

Mine enemy is growing old,—
I have at last revenge.
The palate of the hate departs;
If any would avenge,—

Let him be quick, the viand flits,
It is a faded meat.
Anger as soon as fed is dead;
’T is starving makes it fat.


~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

If one is poetically inclined, poetry is a handy medium for fulfilling dreams of vengeance harmlessly, is it not?

Sometimes I think Robert W. Service has been underestimated. Too bad he is best known for Casey at the Bat, which has always seemed like self-parody. This lesser known opus is far more poignant. It has real bite.

FreeThinke said...

May the New Year be Gracious, Encouraging, Refreshing, Enlightening,
Healthy, Prosperous –– and full of Joy and Laughter.

_________ To a Glad New Year _________

Toot the trumpets! Strike the strings and sing!
On your feet! Step lively in the dance!
Age and Youth alike are on the wing
Going forward: Time moves like a lance
Let loose by some celestial super strength
Amidst the muck and mire of our dozing
Driving us, reminding that life’s length
Never gives us room for much reposing.
Esurient? Appease the appetites
Wholesome and pure. The body, gross and vile,
Yields but sickly transient delights ~
Evoking ennui with a knowing smile.
Awake! A blessed New Year is at hand!
Resolve to love and give without demand!


~ FreeThinke

-FJ said...

Happy New Year, FT. Next year, may Euterpe and Erato tickle your fancy in equal portions as Calliope did this year. ;)

-FJ said...

ps - Loved Dan's tale! I'd never heard it before. Very apropos!

FreeThinke said...

__________ On New Year’s Day _________

Our hope would be to take the roadblocks down
No more to have to hide behind the walls
Negativity built with a frown,
Even though she smiles in gleaming halls
Welcoming all with fawning falsity,
Yet yearning all the while for something solid.
Excitement dies in stuffy halls at tea,
As hypocrisy makes discourse witless, stolid.
Rarely may we speak without a filter.
‘Tis safer not, lest someone take offense.
So, fearing to be thought bizarre –– off kilter ––
Daft –– depraved –– or simply too intense ––
A fear of ostracism serves P-C,
Yielding a moribund society.


~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

Dan's Tale?

Sorry, I don't get it?

FreeThinke said...

Come to think of it there are also elements of Auden's O What is That Sound? present in this Service opus, –– or would that be the other way 'round? I can't remember which came first, can you?

Treacherous females betraying their men. A time-honored theme!

The worst thing we ever did was allow women to get the right to vote and to be eligible to run for elective office. Ever since Eve ...

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