Le Pas Trois
An Epigram from M. De Levis
By turns a mortal and his mate
Might govern in due season,
If Nature taught mankind to prate,
And woman how to reason:
But as it is, we helpless men
Are worsted in the battle;
For oft we lose our wits—but when
Do women lose their prattle?
French sages with electric force
Teach heaven itself to wonder:
They change by sound the lightning’s course,
And thunder quell by thunder.
Thus Nature, when in man she saw
What stormy fits were common,
To foil their force, or give them law,
Bestow’d a tongue on woman:
But if for lasting calm they hope,
Let sages seek a structure,
Which with a woman’s tongue may cope,
Or give it a conductor.
One wise-man’s skull would balance yet
At least a pair of females’:
But mark my tale—One woman-wit
May chance to puzzle three males.
* * * * * *
O balmy is the evening breeze
That waves thy bow’rs, sweet Thuilleries!
When with full heart and close-knit thumbs
A gentle swain expectant comes.
Divine Blondel!—how oft and long
Thine eye has scann’d yon busy throng,
Exploring every plum’d capote,
Lac’d pelerine or redingote,
Beneath some envious veil to view
Thy Decima with eyes so blue!
And hark!—her step thy faith rewards—
No—’tis a Colonel of the Guards.
“Monsieur Le Loup!—fine weather this.”
“Why, for a stroll not much amiss;
But yonder comes a cloud, and you
Have no surtout or paraboue!”
On stalks the warrior, and the swain
Returns to gaze and sigh again.
Well, now the sun a form reveals—
A length’ning shadow this way steals—
“It is my Decima!—I see
Those lips so rich with beaume-de-vie!
Those eyes whose flashes sear’d the gnomes
Of darkness from the catacombs—
Those smiles which cheer’d me when I lay
Astounded on the soft pavé—
Those cheeks where fifty cupids dwell—
Peste!—’tis again mon Colonel.”
“Still lounging here, Blondel?—we’ve stray’d
Three ages in the promenade:—
Adieu!—bon soir!—the air is full
Of thunder, and the lounge grows dull.”
“Not dull, monsieur, when eyes of blue
Wait to mix love-drops with the dew
Sweet evening gives—”—“Morbleu, ’tis I
Wait here to meet her!”—“I deny!
I have her billet here, she says
Her heart is like a sugar-vase
Candied in Cupid’s oven, fit
To hold the nosegays of my wit.”
“Her heart for you!—Diantre, was it
No better than a china-closet,
For such a biscuit-figur’d elf
To lodge in on an empty shelf?
But hush!—the lady comes—fi donc!
’Tis but our Ballet-fop, Leön—
We’ll send him hence—Monsieur, I see
Great signs of rain”—“Tant mieux for me!
’Tis best on smooth and sliding ground
To practise pironette and bound.
Mon cher Blondel! observe, I pray,
This new pas grave and balanceé—
Ah ça, mon chevalier, with us
Will you try waltzing a-la-Russe?”
“Sir, English waltzing is enough,
“O Bête sauvage!—I never fight
Without lorgnettes to aid my sight—
Adieu, messieurs!—that spangled flounce
And starry shoe ma belle announce.”
“Here, at this hour!”—“Ma foi, I shew
No gentle lady’s billet-doux.”—
“Boaster and Fibster!”—ev’ry swain—
Exalts his courage and his cane;
Nor Vestris nor Le Picq could try
More pirouettes and capers high,
Till peeping through a myrtle-shade,
Thus spoke a dimpled blue-eyed maid—
“Together met, one summer’s day,
A dove, a peacock, and a jay:
Each heard the sound that pleas’d his ear,
And sought his lovesick partner near;
Each boasting deem’d himself preferr’d,
But none perceiv’d the Mocking Bird.”