The Ballad of a Barber
Here is the tale of Carrousel, The barber of Meridian Street. He cut, and coiffed, and shaved so well, That all the world was at his feet. The King, the Queen, and all the Court, To no one else would trust their hair, And reigning belles of every sort Owed their successes to his care. With carriage and with cabriolet Daily Meridian Street was blocked, Like bees about a bright bouquet The beaux about his doorway flocked. Such was his art he could with ease Curl wit into the dullest face; Or to a goddess of old Greece Add a new wonder and a grace. All powders, paints, and subtle dyes, And costliest scents that men distil, And rare pomades, forgot their price And marvelled at his splendid skill. The curling irons in his hand Almost grew quick enough to speak, The razor was a magic wand That understood the softest cheek. Yet with no pride his heart was moved; He was so modest in his ways! His daily task was all he loved, And now and then a little praise. An equal care he would bestow On problems simple or complex; And nobody had seen him show A preference for either sex. How came it then one summer day, Coiffing the daughter of the King, He lengthened out the least delay And loitered in his hairdressing? The Princess was a pretty child, Thirteen years old, or thereabout. She was as joyous and as wild As spring flowers when the sun is out. Her gold hair fell down to her feet And hung about her pretty eyes; She was as lyrical and sweet As one of Schubertís melodies. Three times the barber curled a lock, And thrice he straightened it again; And twice the irons scorched her frock, And twice he stumbled in her train. His fingers lost their cunning quite, His ivory combs obeyed no more; Something or other dimmed his sight, And moved mysteriously the floor. He leant upon the toilet table, His fingers fumbled in his breast; He felt as foolish as a fable, And feeble as a pointless jest. He snatched a bottle of Cologne, And broke the neck between his hands; He felt as if he was alone, And mighty as a kingís commands. The Princess gave a little scream, Carrouselís cut was sharp and deep; He left her softly as a dream That leaves a sleeper to his sleep. He left the room on pointed feet; Smiling that things had gone so well. They hanged him in Meridian Street. You pray in vain for Carrousel.
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