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WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY

1811-1863

723                                   The Ballad of Bouillabaisse

A STREET there is in Paris famous,
  For which no rhyme our language yields,
Rue Neuve des Petits Champs its name is
  The New Street of the Little Fields;
And heres an inn, not rich and splendid,
  But still in comfortable case;
The which in youth I oft attended,
  To eat a bowl of Bouillabaisse.
This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is
  A sort of soup or broth, or brew,
Or hotchpotch, of all sorts of fishes,
  That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffern,
  Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace;
All these you eat at Terrés tavern,
  In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.
Indeed, a rich and savoury stew tis;
  And true philosophers, methinks,
Who love all sorts of natural beauties,
  Should love good victuals and good drinks.
And Cordelier or Benedictine
  Might gladly, sure, his lot embrace,
Nor find a fast-day too afflicting
  Which served him up a Bouillabaisse.
I wonder if the house still there is?
  Yes, here the lamp is, as before;
The smiling red-cheekd écaillàre is
  Still opening oysters at the door.
Is Terré still alive and able?
  I recollect his droll grimace;
Hed come and smile before your table,
  And hope you liked your Bouillabaisse.
We enternothings changed or older.
  Hows Monsieur Terré, waiter, pray?
The waiter stares and shrugs his shoulder
  Monsieur is dead this many a day.
It is the lot of saint and sinner,
  So honest Terrés run his race!
What will Monsieur require for dinner?
  Say, do you still cook Bouillabaisse?
Oh, oui, Monsieur, s the waiters answer;
  Quel vin Monsieur désire-t-il?
Tell me a good one.That I can, Sir:
  The Chambertin with yellow seal.
So Terrés gone, I say, and sink in
  My old accustomd corner-place;
Hes done with feasting and with drinking,
  With Burgundy and Bouillabaisse.
My old accustomd corner here is,
  The table still is in the nook;
Ah! vanishd many a busy year is,
  This well-known chair since last I took.
When first I saw ye, cari luoghi,
  Id scarce a beard upon my face,
And now a grizzled, grim old fogy,
  I sit and wait for Bouillabaisse.
Where are you, old companions trusty,
  Of early days, here met to dine?
Come, waiter! quick, a flagon crusty
  Ill pledge them in the good old wine.
The kind old voices and old faces
  My memory can quick retrace;
Around the board they take their places,
  And share the wine and Bouillabaisse.
Theres Jack has made a wondrous marriage;
  There's laughing Tom is laughing yet;
Theres brave Augustus drives his carriage;
  Theres poor old Fred in the Gazette;
On Jamess head the grass is growing:
  Good Lord! the world has wagged apace
Since here we set the Claret flowing,
  And drank, and ate the Bouillabaisse.
Ah me! how quick the days are flitting!
  I mind me of a time thats gone,
When here Id sit, as now Im sitting,
  In this same placebut not alone.
A fair young form was nestled near me,
  A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to cheer me
  Theres no one now to share my cup.

      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .   

I drink it as the Fates ordain it.
  Come, fill it, and have done with rhymes:
Fill up the lonely glass, and drain it
  In memory of dear old times.
Welcome the wine, whateer the seal is;
  And sit you down and say your grace
With thankful heart, whateer the meal is.
  Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse!

724                                                 Persicos Odi

DEAR Lucy, you know what my wish is,
  I hate all your Frenchified fuss:
Your silly entrées and made dishes
  Were never intended for us.
No footman in lace and in ruffles
  Need dangle behind my arm-chair;
And never mind seeking for truffles,
  Although they be ever so rare.

But a plain leg of mutton, my Lucy,
  I prythee get ready at three:
Have it smoking, and tender, and juicy,
  And what better meat can there be?
And when it has feasted the master,
  Twill amply suffice for the maid;
Meanwhile I will smoke my canaster,
  And tipple my ale in the shade.

 

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