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Lament for the Waltz People

ISSUE:  Summer 1943

Have they at last escaped Into memoriams,
Those grandfathers who shaped This era of the drums? Where is the famous cheek With the painted sabre-cut? Where in that scenic wreck The drunken patriot?
Their scarlet interim Takes to the weeping page Where fruity memoirs dim Its mortal clay and rouge,
While on the chandelier Chopin-trimmed visions show How death in his career Strikes with a velvet blow.
The past will not behave For it is profligate,
Nursing old wounds with love,
Showing a sword, a bed,
And flowers pressed, corrupt,
In fraudulent black books;
Ah, none is so adept At pairing doves and snakes.

Nor is it penitent Where a cold vindictive gun Looks from its battlement In Nome or Darien;
For always as before,
Like the memory of France,
Wheels on our tarnished floor The old paternal dance.


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