Chanson Without Music By The Professor Emeritus Of Dead And Live Languages

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

PHI BETA KAPPA. - CAMBRIDGE, 1867

You bid me sing, - can I forget
The classic ode of days gone by, -
How belle Fifine and jeune Lisette
Exclaimed, "Anacreon, geron ei"?
"Regardez done," those ladies said, -
"You're getting bald and wrinkled too
When summer's roses all are shed,
Love 's nullum ite, voyez-vous!"

In vain ce brave Anacreon's cry,
"Of Love alone my banjo sings"
(Erota mounon). "Etiam si, -
Eh b'en?" replied the saucy things, -
"Go find a maid whose hair is gray,
And strike your lyre, - we sha'n't complain;
But parce nobis, s'il vous plait, -
Voila Adolphe! Voila Eugene!"

Ah, jeune Lisette! Ah, belle Fifine!
Anacreon's lesson all must learn;
O kairos oxiis; Spring is green,
But Acer Hyems waits his turn
I hear you whispering from the dust,
"Tiens, mon cher, c'est toujours so, -
The brightest blade grows dim with rust,
The fairest meadow white with snow!"

You do not mean it! Not encore?
Another string of playday rhymes?
You 've heard me - nonne est?-before,
Multoties,-more than twenty times;
Non possum, - vraiment, - pas du tout,
I cannot! I am loath to shirk;
But who will listen if I do,
My memory makes such shocking work?

Ginosko. Scio. Yes, I 'm told
Some ancients like my rusty lay,
As Grandpa Noah loved the old
Red-sandstone march of Jubal's day.
I used to carol like the birds,
But time my wits has quite unfixed,
Et quoad verba, - for my words, -
Ciel! Eheu! Whe-ew! - how they're mixed!

Mehercle! Zeu! Diable! how
My thoughts were dressed when I was young,
But tempus fugit! see them now
Half clad in rags of every tongue!
O philoi, fratres, chers amis
I dare not court the youthful Muse,
For fear her sharp response should be,
"Papa Anacreon, please excuse!"

Adieu! I 've trod my annual track
How long! - let others count the miles, -
And peddled out my rhyming pack
To friends who always paid in smiles.
So, laissez-moi! some youthful wit
No doubt has wares he wants to show;
And I am asking, "Let me sit,"
Dum ille clamat, "Dos pou sto!"

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