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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


The Pompadour

By Walter Thornbury (1828–1876)

VERSAILLES!—Up the chestnut alley,

All in flower, so white and pure,

Strut the red and yellow lacqueys

Of this Madame Pompadour.

“Clear the way!” cry out the lacqueys,

Elbowing the lame and poor

From the chapel’s stately porches,—

“Way for Madame Pompadour!”

Old bent soldiers, crippled veterans,

Sigh and hobble, sad, footsore,

Jostled by the chariot-horses

Of this woman—Pompadour.

Through the levée (poet, marquis,

Wistful for the opening door),

With a rippling sweep of satin,

Sailed the queenly Pompadour.

Sighs by dozens, as she proudly

Glides, so confident and sure,

With her fan that breaks through halberds,—

In went Madame Pompadour.

Starving abbé, wounded marshal,

Speculator, lean and poor,

Cringe and shrink before the creatures

Of this harlot Pompadour.

“Rose in sunshine! Summer lily!”

Cries a poet at the door,

Squeezed and trampled by the lacqueys

Of the witching Pompadour.

“Bathed in milk and fed on roses!”

Sighs a pimp behind the door,

Jammed and bullied by the courtiers

Of this strumpet Pompadour.

“Rose of Sharon!” chants an abbé,

Fat and with the voice of four,

Black silk stockings soiled by varlets

Of this Rahab Pompadour.

“Neck so swan-like,—Dea certe!

Fit for monarchs to adore!”

“Clear the way!” was still the echo,

“For this Venus—Pompadour.”

Open!—with the jar of thunder

Fly the portals,—clocks strike four:

With a burst of drums and trumpets

Come the King and Pompadour.