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Poem by William Makepeace Thackeray

The Ballad Of Bouillabaisse

A street there is in Paris famous,
  	For which no rhyme our language yields,
Rue Neuve des Petits Champs its name is 
  	The New Street of the Little Fields.
And heres an inn, not rich and splendid,
  	But still in comfortable case;
The which in youth I oft attended,
  	To eat a bowl of Bouillabaisse.

This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is 
  	A sort of soup or broth, or brew,
Or hotchpotch of all sorts of fishes,
  	That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffron,
  	Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace:
All these you eat at Terrés tavern,
  	In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.

Indeed, a rich and savory stew tis;
  	And true philosophers, methinks,
Who love all sorts of natural beauties,
  	Should love good victuals and good drinks.
And Cordelier or Benedictine
  	Might gladly, sure, his lot embrace,
Nor find a fast-day too afflicting,
  	Which served him up a Bouillabaisse.

I wonder if the house still there is?
  	Yes, here the lamp is, as before;
The smiling red-checked écaillère is
  	Still opening oysters at the door.
Is Terré still alive and able?
  	I recollect his droll grimace:
Hed come and smile before your table,
  	And hope you liked your Bouillabaisse.

We enter  nothings changed or older.
  	Hows Monsieur Terré , waiter, pray?
The waiter stares and shrugs his shoulder 
  	Monsieur is dead this many a day.
It is the lot of saint and sinner,
 	So honest Terrés run his race.
What will Monsieur require for dinner?
  	Say, do you still cook Bouillabaisse?

Oh, oui, Monsieur, s the waiters answer;
   	Quel vin Monsieur désire-t-il?
Tell me a good one.  That I can, Sir:
  	The Chambertin with yellow seal.
So Terrés gone, I say, and sink in
  	My old accustomd corner-place
Hes done with feasting and with drinking,
  	With Burgundy and Bouillabaisse.

My old accustomd corner here is,
  	The table still is in the nook;
Ah! vanishd many a busy year is
  	This well-known chair since last I took.
When first I saw ye, cari luoghi,
  	Id scarce a beard upon my face,
And now a grizzled, grim old fogy,
  	I sit and wait for Bouillabaisse.

Where are you, old companions trusty
  	Of early days here met to dine?
Come, waiter! quick, a flagon crusty 
  	Ill pledge them in the good old wine.
The kind old voices and old faces
  	My memory can quick retrace;
Around the board they take their places,
  	And share the wine and Bouillabaisse.

Theres Jack has made a wondrous marriage;
  	Theres laughing Tom is laughing yet;
Theres brave Augustus drives his carriage;
  	Theres poor old Fred in the Gazette;
On Jamess head the grass is growing;
  	Good Lord! the world has wagged apace
Since here we set the Claret flowing,
  	And drank, and ate the Bouillabaisse.

Ah me! how quick the days are flitting!
  	I mind me of a time thats gone,
When here Id sit, as now Im sitting,
  	In this same place  but not alone.
A fair young form was nestled near me,
  	A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to cheer me 
  	Theres no one now to share my cup.

      .      .      .      .      .

I drink it as the Fates ordain it.
  	Come, fill it, and have done with rhymes:
Fill up the lonely glass, and drain it
  	In memory of dear old times.
Welcome the wine, whateer the seal is;
  	And sit you down and say your grace
With thankful heart, whateer the meal is.
  	 Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse!

William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray's other poems:
  1. The Minaret Bells
  2. A Tragic Story
  3. The Rocks
  4. Larry OToole
  5. My Nora

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