Chanson Without Music: By the Professor Emeritus of Dead and Live Languages. (Φ. B. K.--Cambridge, 1867)

YOU bid me sing, — can I forget
The classic ode of days gone by, —
How belle Fifine and jeune Lisette
Exclaimed, "Anacreōn, gerōn ei ” ?
“ Regardez done,” those ladies said, —
“You ’re getting bald and wrinkled too :
When summer’s roses all are shed,
Love’s nullum ite, voyez-vous ! ”
In vain ce brave Anacreon’s cry,
“ Of Love alone my banjo sings ”
(Erōta mounon). “ Etiam si, —
Eh b’en ?” replied the saucy things,—
“ Go find a maid whose hair is gray,
And strike your lyre,—we sha' n’t complain ;
But parce nobis, s’il vous plait,—
Voilà Adolphe ! Voilà Eugène ! ”
Ah, jeune Lisette ! Ah, belle Fifine !
Anacreon’s lesson all must learn ;
O kairos oxūs ; Spring is green,
But Acer Hyems waits his turn !
I hear you whispering from the dust,
“Tiens, mon cher, c’est toujours so,—
The brightest blade grows dim with rust,
The fairest meadow white with snow ! ”
You do not mean it! Not encore ?
Another string of playday rhymes?
You’ve heard me — nonne est ?—before,
Multoties, — more than twenty times ;
Non possum, — vraiment, — pas du tout,
I cannot! I am loath to shirk;
But who will listen if I do,
My memory makes such shocking work ?
Ginōsko. Scio. Yes, I ’m told
Some ancients like my rusty lay,
As Grandpa Noah loved the old
Red-sandstone march of Jubal’s day
I used to carol like the birds,
But time my wits has quite unfixed,
Et quoad verba,—for my words,—
Ciel ! Eheu ! Whe-ew ! — how they ’re mixed !
Mehercle ! Zeu ! Diable ! how
My thoughts were dressed when I was young
But tempus fugit ! see them now
Half clad in rags of every tongue !
O philoi, fratres, chers amis !
I dare not court the youthful Muse,
For fear her sharp response should be,
“ Papa Anacreon, please excuse ! ”
Adieu ! I’ve trod my annual track
How long ! — let others count the miles, —
And peddled out my rhyming pack
To friends who always paid in smiles.
So, laissez-moi ! some youthful wit
No doubt has wares he wants to show ;
And I am asking, “ Let me sit,”
Dum ille clamat, Dos pou sto ! ”