Gateway to the Classics: In the Days of the Guild by Louise Lamprey
In the Days of the Guild by  Louise Lamprey


The Marionettes

After the council comes the feast—and then

Jongleurs and minstrels, and the sudden song

That wakes the trumpets and the din of war,—

But now the Caesar's mood is for a jest.

Fellow—you juggler with the puppet-show,

The Emperor permits you to come in.

Ah, yes—the five wise virgins—very fair.

There certainly can be no harm in that.

The bride, methinks, is somewhat like Matilda,

Wife of Duke Henry whom they call the Lion.

Aye, to be sure—the little hoods and cloaks

All tricked out with the arms of Saxony.

This way—be brisk now—to the banquet-hall.

'Tis clever—here come bride and bride-maidens

With lights in silvern lanterns. Very good.

Milan had puppet-shows, but none, I venture,

So well set forth as this. . . . No Lombard here,

He speaks pure French. Aha, the jester comes!

A biting satire, yes, a merry jape,—

The Bear that aped the Lion! A good song,

'Twill please the Saxon, surely. Now, what next?

Here come the foolish virgins all array'd

In mourning veils, with little lamps revers'd.

The merchant will not sell them any oil,

The jester mocks them and the monk rebukes them,—

A shrewd morality. Aye,—loyalty,

Truth, kindliness and mercy, and wise judgment

Are the five precious oils to light a throne.

A pretty compliment, a well-turned phrase!

Woe to the foolish Virgins of the Lombards

If we find lamps unlighted on our way!

Then surely will the door of hope shut fast

And in that outer darkness will be heard

Weeping and howling . . . So, is that the end?

Hark, fellow, you have pleased the Emperor,

This ring's the token. Take a message now

That may be spoken by your wooden King,—

The master-mind regards all Christendom

As but a puppet-show,—he pulls the strings,

The others act and speak to suit his book,—

Aye, truly, a most excellent puppet-show!

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