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Poem by Eugene Field
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's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org