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!