John Godfrey Saxe
Le Jardin Mabile - Poem by John Godfrey Saxe
Should you e'er go to France- as of course you intend-
(Though the Great Exposition is now at an end),
And in Paris should stroll- as I'm certain you will-
In the Gardens adorned with such exquisite skill
To call them 'Elysian' is scarcely to reach
What the grammars entitle a 'figure of speech,'-
Don't fail, ere you go, for a moment to steal
A look at the spot called the Jardin Mabile.
'T is a place of enchantment!- a rural retreat
Where Nature and Art in such harmony meet
To form an Elysium of music and flowers,
Of moss-covered grottos and fairy-like bowers,
Where lamps blaze in tulips, and glow-worms of gas
Illumine the roses and gleam in the grass,-
That, merely to see it, one cannot but feel
If there's Heaven on Earth, 't is the Jardin Mabile!
But wait until midnight, or, say, one o'clock,
When hither by hundreds the citizens flock,
And strangers unnumbered are strolling around
In the serpentine walks of the beautiful ground;
Just wait, if you please, till the dance is begun,
And then, at the height of the frolic and fun,
Pray look where the bacchanals caper and reel,
And say what you think of the Jardin Mabile!
The music- the maddest that ever you heard-
Strikes up from the stand, and away, at the word,
The dancers revolve- 'tis the waltz, that is all;
The same you have witnessed at many a ball;
There's nothing extremely surprising in this,
The motion is swift, but there's little amiss;
You merely remark, 'There is plenty of zeal
In the dancers who dance in the Jardin Mabile!'
But see! where the people are closing about
Two brazen-browed women- and hark to the shout,
'La Can-can!- they're at it!'- No wonder you stare,
One foot on the pavement- now two in the air!
A Cockney, intent on this rarest of shows,
Retreats from the shoe that is grazing his nose!
Good lack!- till he dies, he'll remember the heel
That spoiled his new hat in the Jardin Mabile!
There's drinking and gaming at many a stand;
There's feasting and flirting on every hand;
The Paphian queen, it were easy to tell,
Is the Abbess, tonight, of yon anchorite cell;
And the marvelling Turk (for the Sultan is here!)
Cries, 'Allah! Meshallah!- these Christians are queer!
Such orgies as these very plainly reveal
Why they don't take their wives to the Jardin Mabile!'
'A pity!' you sigh- and a pity it is
Such revels should shame such a garden as this;
Where all that is charming in Nature and Art
Serves ony to sully and harden the heart.
'The Devil's own hot-house!' you musingly say,
While turning in sadness and sorrow away;
Reflecting that Sin- as you potently feel-
Is the thriftiest plant in the Jardin Mabile!
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