Charles Godfrey Leland

(15 August 1824 - 20 March 1903 / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Breitmann In Belgium. Spa. - Poem by Charles Godfrey Leland

VHEN sommer drees shake fort deir leafs,
Ash maids shake out deir locks,
Und singen mit de rifulets,
Vitch ripplen round de rocks,
Und beople swarm land-outwards,
Und cities weary men,
Hans Breitmann rode de Belgier mark
For Spa in Les Ardennes.

Und vhen he came to Spadenland,
He found it fein und fair,
For dey pour him out de peke schnapps,
Dazu elixer rare;
Und mit a soldier's inshdink
To find a shanse to shoot,
Mitout delay he fire afay
Right in de Grande Redoute.

De virst shot dat der Breitmann fired
He pring de peaches down,
For he hit de double zero mit
A gold Napoleon.
Und ash he raked de shiners in,
He hummed a liddle doon:
'I kess I tont try dat again,'
Said he, dis afdernoon.

Boot vhen he coom to rouge et noir,
A tear fell tripplin denn,
Id look so moosh like goot old dimes,
To come dose games again.
Yet vhen he lossed a hundred francs,
He sadly toorned afay,
'I'd rader keep de tiger here,
Dan vight him, any day.'

Und shtanding py de daple,
He saw a French lorette
Vat porrowed shpecie all around,
Und lossed at efery bet.
'Id's all de same mit dis or dat,
Or any kind of sin,
De lorette or de rolette - bot'
Will make de money shpin.'

He trinket of Le Pouhon well,
Und from La Sauveniere;
He tried it ad de Barisart,
Und auch de Geronstere.
'Dey say dat Troot' lie in a well,
So trink from all we can,
Und here we'll prove dat Troot is Health,'
Dat's so, sayd Breitemann.

So long in ruined Franchimont
He sat on hollowed ground,
Und dinked of Wilhelm de la Marck,
Who'd raked dat coontry round.
'Mein Gott! how id vas mofe mine heart
To read in hishdory,
Und find de scattered shinin lights
Of vellers shoost like me!

'Dis nople boar-pig of Ardennes,
Dis shtately Wallowin lord,
Vas make him vamous py de pen,
Und glorious py de swordt.
Und showed his hero-scholarship,
Vhen he wrote to de pishop, 'Satis,
Brulabo monasterium
Vestrum, si non payatis.'

'Dey say dat in de keller here
Dere lifes a coblin briest,
Dereto a teufelsjagersmann
Vot guard a specie chest.
O if I vonce could find de vay,
Und spot dat box of checks,
I voonder shoost how long 'twould pe
Pefore I'd twis deir necks.'

Und in de Walk of Meyerbeer,
Vhere plashin brooklets ring,
He see vhere in de water wild
De wood-birds flip deir wing.
'Ash de prooklet's lost in de rifer,
Und de rifer's lost in de sea,
Mine soul kits lost on water 'plain,''
Says Breitemann, says he.

Und ash he walked de Meyerbeer
He marcked, peside de way,
A rock shoost like a wild boar's head,
Vraie tete du sanglier.
Der Breitmann heafe a shiant sigh,
Und say mit 'motion grand:
Von crate idee ish uber all
In dis der Schweinpig's land.

He drafel troo de Val d'Ambleve,
He lounge de schweet Sept Heures,
He shdare indo de window-shops,
Und see de painted ware.
He looket at de fans und dings,
Denn said, 'To tell de trut',
Dere's painted vares more dear ash dis
Oop shdairs in La Redoute.'

Und sittin in de Champignon,
Vitch rose 'neat Lofe's schweet hand,
He read in books of Marmontel,
Of Jeannette et Lubin.
Id's nice to see Simplicitas
Rococoed oop mit vlowers,
Und dink soosh virtue shdill may life
In dis base vorldt of ours.

'Tvas here, oopon de Spadoumont
Deir gottashe used to set;
'Tvas here they keeped von simple cow
Likevise an lettuce-bett.
Berhaps I hafe crown vorldly since,
Yet shdill may druly say,
Dat in mine poyhood's tays I vas
Apout so good ash dey.

But he vot vant to see dis land,
Und has nod time for all:
Eash woodland nook und shady brook;
On Herr Marcette shouldt call.
For he has baintet all to live
Vhen de drees demselfs are gone;
Und shoost so goot as artist, auch,
Ish he bon compagnon.

Farevell, schveet Spa - dou home of vlowers,
Of ruin and of rock,
Vhere vild pirds sing und de band ish blay
Eash day at sefen o'clock.
If all de shbrees dat Spa has seen
Vere melted into von,
De soul vouldt reach Nirwana - lost
In transcendental fun.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 14, 2010

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