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LEEDS

by
 O my beloved city,

How many times have I deserted you

For the sights and sounds of Babylon?

How often and from how far

Have I conjured your broad boulevards

O Quartier Latin, crowded street caf?s

With white and scarlet awnings, gold

Adornings on stone cupolas, Byzantine domes

And plinths of equine statuary before

The Gare du Nord, grumbling fading

Faience of the Gare de l’Est?



Often, O how often, did I mingle with your crowds

Crossing the Pont Mirabeau in their Sunday best,

Regretting my lost loves, watching the barges

Snail along the Seine, hearing the bells

Of the Angelus dawn?



II



Exiled in the south and in a new century,

I recall leisurely Sundays on the Grande Jatte;

The children in sun hats knelt by their boats

Unfurling handkerchiefs for sails and for supreme farewells

(Shall I return? Steamer with your poised masts

Raising anchor for exotic climes?)



III



The bells of Sacr? Coeur shake rickety tables

Where old men in blazers sport the L?gion d’Honneur.
Priests in birettas sip Green Chartreuse over their Breviaries while Wilde and Gide stroll round P?re Lachaise vying to outdo each other’s tinted Memories of soft-skinned Moroccan boys.
Weary of their weariness and of my own, and of Rimbaud and Verlaine’s battle of strophe and Anti-strophe and rhetoric’s demise, I take a Lacquered tram to the Bois de Boulogne, hoping To catch Mistinguette’s last song.

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