Florence Wilkinson: Students

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff


Florence Wilkinson

John Brown and Jeanne at Fontainebleau —
'T was Toussaint, just a year ago;
Crimson and copper was the glow
Of all the woods at Fontainebleau.
They peered into that ancient well,
And watched the slow torch as it fell.
John gave the keeper two whole sous,
And Jeanne that smile with which she woos
John Brown to folly. So they lose
The Paris train. But never mind! —
All-Saints are rustling in the wind,
And there's an inn, a crackling fire —
(It's `deux-cinquante', but Jeanne's desire);
There's dinner, candles, country wine,
Jeanne's lips — philosophy divine!
There was a bosquet at Saint Cloud
Wherein John's picture of her grew
To be a Salon masterpiece —
Till the rain fell that would not cease.
Through one long alley how they raced! —
'T was gold and brown, and all a waste
Of matted leaves, moss-interlaced.
Shades of mad queens and hunter-kings
And thorn-sharp feet of dryad-things
Were company to their wanderings;
Then rain and darkness on them drew.
The rich folks' motors honked and flew.
They hailed an old cab, heaven for two;
The bright Champs-Elysées at last —
Though the cab crawled it sped too fast.
Paris, upspringing white and gold:
Flamboyant arch and high-enscrolled
War-sculpture, big, Napoleonic —
Fierce chargers, angels histrionic;
The royal sweep of gardened spaces,
The pomp and whirl of columned Places;
The Rive Gauche, age-old, gay and gray;
The impasse and the loved café;
The tempting tidy little shops;
The convent walls, the glimpsed tree-tops;
Book-stalls, old men like dwarfs in plays;
Talk, work, and Latin Quarter ways.
May — Robinson's, the chestnut trees —
Were ever crowds as gay as these?
The quick pale waiters on a run,
The round, green tables, one by one,
Hidden away in amorous bowers —
Lilac, laburnum's golden showers.
Kiss, clink of glasses, laughter heard,
And nightingales quite undeterred.
And then that last extravagance —
O Jeanne, a single amber glance
Will pay him! — "Let's play millionaire
For just two hours — on princely fare,
At some hotel where lovers dine
À deux and pledge across the wine!"
They find a damask breakfast-room,
Where stiff silk roses range their bloom.
The garcon has a splendid way
Of bearing in grand déjeuner.
Then to be left alone, alone,
High up above Rue Castiglione;
Curtained away from all the rude
Rumors, in silken solitude;
And, John, her head upon your knees —
Time waits for moments such as these.
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