Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
Pictures of Paris
Marc Antoine Madelaine Désaugiers (1772–1827)
Translated by John Oxenford


NOW the darkness breaks,
Flight it slowly takes;
Now the morning wakes,
    Roofs around to gild.
Now the day ’s in sight,        5
Lamps give paler light,
Houses grow more white;
    Markets all are filled.
From La Vilette
Comes young Susette,        10
Her flowers to set
    Upon the quay.
His donkey Pierre
Is driving near,
From Vincennes here        15
    His fruit brings he.
Florists ope their eyes,
Oysterwomen rise,
Grocers, who are wise,
    Start from bed at dawn;        20
Artisans now toil,
Poets paper soil,
Pedants eyesight spoil,
    Idlers only yawn.
I see Javotte,        25
Who cries, “Carotte!”
And sells a lot
    Of parsnips cheap.
Her voice so shrill
The air can fill,        30
And drown it will
    The chimney-sweep.
Now the gamester’s seen;
With a haggard mien,
And his pocket clean,        35
    Swearing, home he goes
While the drunkard lies
On his path, more wise,
Making music rise
    From his blushing nose.        40
In yonder house
They still carouse,
Change loving vows,
    And sing and play.
Through all the night,        45
In sorry plight,
A wretched wight
    Before it lay.
Now the patient rings,
Till the servant brings        50
Draughts and other things,
    Such as doctors know;
While his lady fair
Feigns with modest air
(Love is lurking there!)        55
    For a bath to go.
Love’s pilgrims creep
With purpose deep,
And measured step
    Where none can see;        60
The diligence
Is leaving France,
To seek Mayence
    Or Italy.
“Dear papa, adieu,        65
Good by, mother, too,
And the same to you,
    Every little one.”
Now the horses neigh,
Now the whip ’s in play,        70
Windows ring away,
    Out of sight they ’re gone.
In every place
New things I trace,
No empty place        75
    Can now be found.
But great and small,
And short and tall,
Tag rag and all,
    In crowds abound.        80
Ne’er the like has been;
Now they all begin
Such a grievous din,
    They will split my head;
How I feel it ache        85
With the noise they make;—
Paris is awake,
    So I ’ll go to bed.

NOW the motley throng,
As it rolls along        90
With its torrents strong,
    Seems to ebb away.
Business-time has past,
Dinner comes at last,
Cloths are spreading fast,—        95
    Night succeeds to day.
Here woodcock fine,
I can divine,
On fowl some dine,
    And turkey too.        100
While here a lot
Of cabbage hot
All in the pot
    With beef they stew.
Now the parasite        105
Hastes with footstep light,
Where the fumes invite
    Of a banquet rare.
Yonder wretch I see,
For a franc dines he,        110
But in debt he ’ll be
    For his sorry fare.
Hark, what a noise!
Sure every voice
Its force employs        115
    To swell the sound.
Here softest strains
Tell lover’s pains;
There proudly reigns
    The drunken round.        120
Dinner ’s over, so
To cafés they go,
While their faces glow;
    Then elate with wine
Yon gourmand so great        125
Falls, and with his weight
Crushes one, whom fate
    Suffered not to dine.
The mocha steams,
The punch-bowl gleams        130
And perfume seems
    To fill the air.
“Ice! ice!” they call,
And “Coffee” bawl,
“Could you at all        135
    The paper spare?”
Journals they read o’er,
Liquors down they pour,
Or they sit before
    Tables spread for play.        140
While with watchful eyes,
And with aspect wise,
Stands to criticise
    The habitué.
There tragedy        145
They go to see,
Here comedy
    Asserts her reign;
A juggler here,
A drama there,        150
Your purse would clear,
    Nor sues in vain.
Now the lamps are bright,
Chandeliers alight,
Shops are quite a sight        155
    While with wicked eye
Stands the little queen
Of the magazine,
And with roguish mien
    Tempts the folks to buy.        160
A nook obscure
Will some allure,
Who there secure
    May play their parts.
There thieves at will        165
Their pockets fill;
And lovers steal
    The ladies’ hearts.
Jeannot, and Claude, and Blaise,
Nicolas and Nicaise,        170
Who all five from Falaise
    To Paris lately came;
Admire with upturned faces,
Fast rooted to their places,
Paillasse’s strange grimaces,        175
    Naught paying for the same.
Her labors done,
Her dress put on,
To dance has gone
    The gay grisette.        180
Her grandma dear
And neighbor near,
Their souls will cheer
    With cool piquette.
Now ’t is ten o’clock,        185
Now against a rock,
With a heavy shock,
    Three new plays have struck.
From the doors the mob
Rushes,—mind your fob,—        190
Gentlefolks who rob
    Try just now their luck.
“St. Jean,” I say,
“Quick,—no delay!
My cab this way!”        195
    The livery all
With wine accursed
Could almost burst,
But still athirst,
    From taverns crawl.        200
Carriages with pride
Take their lords inside,
Then away they glide
    In a solemn row.
Cabs retreat of course,        205
While the drivers hoarse
Swear with all their force,
    As they backwards go.
Hark! what a rout!
They push about,        210
And loudly shout,
    “Take care, take care!”
Some hurry, yet
Are soon upset,
Across some get        215
    And home repair.
Trade begins to drop,
Finding custom stop,
Tradesmen shut up shop;
    Here ’s a contrast strange!        220
Noisy thoroughfare,
Crowd-encumbered square,
To a desert bare
    Now is doomed to change.
A form I see        225
Approaching me,
“Qui vive!” says he;
    At once I shrink;
As he draws nigh
Away go I,        230
’T is best to fly
    All scrapes, I think.
Now there ’s naught in sight
Save the lamps’ pale light,—
Scattered through the night,        235
    Timidly they peep;
These too disappear,
Nothing far or near
But the breeze I hear,—
    All are fast asleep.        240

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