Friday, April 1, 2011

Cinderella at Home by Richard Warwick Bond

Cinderella at Home*

Of Cinderella it has been
Reported, heretofore,
That she became a Prince’s queen,
And polished grates no more.
Purely fictitious this, I trow!
Think! tedious drawing-rooms, dinners slow
The girl’s good sense decided—”No,
‘Twould be too great a bore!”

Not she !—but lounging once, I’m told,
As usual by the fire,
“Dear Godmother,” she said, “you’re old:
Take my advice; retire!”—
She did. Her powers aside were laid
In favour of that thoughtful maid,
Who carries on the fairy-trade,
Since then, in Lancashire.

Not as old maid, I’d have you know:
She likes champagne, not tea;
And does the light fantastic toe
With any youthful she—
A taste that prompts her oftentime
To ask her friends, in dainty rhyme,
To come and dance till midnight’s chime,
And let their troubles be.

And skilled in clothes-philosophy,
(She knows her “Sartor” well!)
Remembering, too, what witchery
Once made the drudge a belle,
So works, that all who enter there
Are clad no more in common wear,
Transformed to something rich and rare
Beneath her potent spell!

See! once again she waves her wand,
That wand of magic power!
Again she fills her bounteous hand
With store of gifts to shower.
Once more she bids lay self aside,
Banish our sorrows, sink our pride,
Forget what budding hopes have died
Or what may come to flower.

The charm is wov’n, the spell is fast!
Behold! what gallant show
Of knights and ladies from the Past
In at her portals flow!
No rust of sleep upon them lies;
Bright as of yore, fair, brave or wise,
They come—yet ‘neath each quaint disguise
Laughs out some face we know.

Raleigh has left his pirate-tricks
Out on the Spanish Main;
Guy Fawkes is interested to fix
Up quite another train:
Sweet Marie-Antoinette from France
Greets Saladin (without his lance;
He’s tired of tilting—means to dance),
And Portia pleads again.

Hamlet, with whom Minerva flirts,
Looks quite an altered man;
Rizzio’s recovered from his hurts
Since that last waltz began:
Stalks in top-boots the King of Cats;
From Wonderland the Man of Hats
Strolls in; and Lady Teazle pats
A Templar with her fan.

Yon Carmelite finds dancing hot!
Othello looks as sour
As ever—(Mrs. O. has not
Been seen this last half-hour!)
A nice edition of Bo-Peep
Postpones her fruitless search for sheep;
No doubt that irksome duty’ll keep,
—At least, so says the Giaour.

Chassez’s a Greek in tunic’s fold
To velvet matador;
The Zingara in red and gold
With Paddy takes the floor:
—A medley strange ! worth, beauty, crime,
Of every age, from every clime,
They mingle modes of modern time
With old romantic lore.

Sing we the gracious Fairy’s praise
Who summons up the throng:
May she who lightens our dull days
Her own glad life prolong!
Cindrella! keep thy mien as bright,
Thy heart as young, thy step as light!
And invitations still indite
In not less graceful song.

from An Ode to the Sun: and Other Poems (1892)
by Richard Warwick Bond

*So did run the heading of sundry poetical invitations to Fancy-dress Balls given—Eheu! fugaces—by a jovial bachelor in the north of England.

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