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Poem by Eugene Field


Twin Idols


There are two phrases, you must know,
  So potent (yet so small)
That wheresoe'er a man may go
  He needs none else at all;
No servile guide to lead the way
  Nor lackey at his heel,
If he be learned enough to say
  "Comme bien" and "Wie viel."

The sleek, pomaded Parleyvoo
  Will air his sweetest airs
And quote the highest rates when you
  "Comme bien" for his wares;
And, though the German stolid be,
  His so-called heart of steel
Becomes as soft as wax when he
  Detects the words "Wie viel."

Go, search the boulevards and rues
  From Havre to Marseilles
You'll find all eloquence you use
  Except "Comme bien" fails;
Or in the country auf der Rhine
  Essay a business deal
And all your art is good fuhr nein
  Beyond the point"Wie viel."

It matters not what game or prey
  Attracts your greedy eyes
You must pursue the good old way
  If you would win the prize;
It is to get a titled mate
  All run down at the heel,
If you inquire of stock effete,
  "Comme bien" or "Wie viel."

So he is wise who envieth not
  A wealth of foreign speech,
Since with two phrases may be got
  Whatever's in his reach;
For Europe is a soulless shrine
  In which all classes kneel
Before twin idols, deemed divine
  "Comme bien" and "Wie viel."



Eugene Field


Eugene Field's other poems:
  1. Abu Midjan
  2. Ballad of Women I Love
  3. Guess
  4. The Broken Ring
  5. The Wind


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