I loved two girls, one fond, one shy,
And I never divined which one loved me.
One married, and now, though I can’t tell why.
Of the four in the story I count but three.
The three weird voices whispered low
Where the eagles swept in their circling ward;
But only one shadow scarred the snow
As I clambered down from Pitz Languard.
One day in the Tuileries,
When a southwest Spanish breeze
Brought scandalous news of the Queen,
The fair proud Empress said,
“My good friend loses her head;
If matters go on this way,
I shall see her shopping, some day,
In the Boulevard des Capucines.”
The saying swiftly went
To the Place of the Orient,
And the stout Queen sneered, “Ah, well!
You are proud and prude, ma belle!
But I think I will hazard a guess
I shall see you one day playing chess
With the Cure of Carabanchel.”
Both ladies, though not over-wise,
Were lucky in prophecies.
For the Boulevard shopmen well
Know the form of stout Isabel
As she buys her modes de Paris;
And after Sedan in despair
The Empress prude and fair
Went to visit Madame sa Mere
In her villa at Carabanchel—
But the Queen was not there to see.
A Squad of regular infantry
In the Commune’s closing days,
Had captured a crowd of rebels
By the wall of Pere-la-Chaise.
There were desperate men, wild women,
And dark-eyed Amazon girls,
And one little boy, with a peach-down cheek
And yellow clustering curls.
The captain seized the little waif,
And said, “What dost thou here?”
“Sapristi, Citizen captain!
I’m a Communist, my dear!”
“Very well! Then you die with the others!”
—“Very well! That’s my affair;
But first let me take to my mother,
Who lives by the wine-shop there,
“My father’s watch. You see it;
A gay old thing, is it not?
It would please the old lady to have it,
Then I’ll come back here, and be shot.
“That is the last we shall see of him,”
The grizzled captain grinned,
As the little man skimmed down the hill,
Like a swallow down the wind.
For the joy of killing had lost its zest
In the glut of those awful days,
And Death writhed, gorged like a greedy snake,
From the Arch to Pere-la-Chaise.
But before the last platoon had fired,
The child’s shrill voice was heard;
“Houp-la! the old girl made such a row
I feared I should break my word.”
Against the bullet-pitted wall
He took his place with the rest,
A button was lost from his ragged blouse,
Which showed his soft white breast.