TO A LADY VERY WELL KNOWN TO THE WHOLE TOWN
by: Voltaire (François
Marie Arouet, 1694-1778)
- HILLIS, how much the times are
- Since in a hack the town you ranged,
- Since without finery or train you shone,
- Conspicuous for your charms alone;
- When though you supped on sorry fare,
- You nectar seemed with gods to share.
- You foolishly to one consigned
- Beauty which might charm all mankind:
- A desperate lover, who for life
- Engaged you when he made his wife.
- You then no treasure did inherit,
- Your beauty was your only merit,
- Your bosom charms divine displayed;
- There Cupid still an ambush laid;
- Your heart was tender, and your mind
- To youthful frolics much inclined.
- With so many charms endued,
- What woman e'er could be a prude?
- That fault, oh! beauty all divine,
- Was very far from being thine;
- Because of favors you were free,
- You were the better liked by me.
- How differently you live, grown great,
- Your life is but the farce of state;
- The hoary porter, who still plies
- At your own door, and tells such lies,
- Is a just emblem of the age,
- His very looks ill-luck presage;
- He thinks the duty of his place is
- To drive away the loves and graces.
- The tender swain's abashed, afraid
- Your pompous palace to invade.
- When you were young, to my amazement
- I've seen them enter at the casement;
- I've seen them enter every day,
- And in your chamber nimbly play.
- Not all your carpets, and your plate,
- Not all your proud parade of state,
- Those goblets which so brightly shine,
- Graved by Germain with art divine;
- Those closets nobly furnished, where
- Martin's exceeds the China ware,
- Your vases of Japan, and all
- The brittle wonders of your hall;
- Your diamond pendants which appear
- With such bright lustre at each ear;
- Your solitaires so dazzling bright,
- Your pomp which strikes the gazer's sight,
- Are worth one quarter of that bliss,
- Which once you imparted by a kiss.
POEMS BY VOLTAIRE
This English translation by William
F. Fleming of 'To a Lady very well Known to the Whole Town' is
reprinted from The Works of Voltaire, Volume XXXVI. Trans.
William F. Fleming. New York: E.R. DuMONT, 1901.