MY LITTLE DUCHESS (1884)

      MY LITTLE DUCHESS
          (1884)

Table-talk. Good jokes and speeches.
I devour a dish of peaches
over your snoring pug-dog, 'Probe'.
Here's a portrait of the duchess
now and then worshipped by Duke Job.

Not the Villasana countess,
nor the wench whose scarlet flounces
broke Prieto, slyly drawn;
not the knobbly-footed maid,
not one Micoló portrayed,
dreaming of dandies, passion's pawn:

My little duchess, who adores
me, lacks a great lady's airs and graces;
she's the grisette of Paul de Kock.
She doesn't dance Bostons, and ignores
the high delight of going to the races
and the joys of le five o 'clock.

Lovelier dream than any bard had
celebrated round the globe,
or cherubim that Jacob studied:
such is the cheeky green-eyed redhead
now and then worshipped by Duke Job.

Out and about, she treads deep pile,
goes through Swan & Brown in style,
'moddomed' by Madame Pontoon.
Not that she's investing there:
chez some other couturiére
she's expected, sharp at noon.

My little duchess has no objets
d'art, she's sensational, she's frabjous,
she's va-va-voom, she's rooty-toot:
there is no dame á la mode in France
matches her chassis for élégance,
even chez Mme Héléne Kossut.

Nowhere, from La Sorpresa's entry
to the steps of the Jockey Club,
is there a Spanish, French, or Yankee
lass of such dazzle, dash and duende
as the duchess of Duke Job.

Drumming heels along the tiles!
Flashing figure that beguiles
with a marked undulación!
Blueblood's air as she surveys
passing men; she pouts with grace
worthy of Mimí Pinsón.

If some wheedling oaf waylays her,
she keeps shopping, my duquesa,
lithe as lynx or zebra foal.
Woe betide if she lets fly,
biffs him one above the eye
with avenging parasol!

There's no woman fine as she.
Spanish instep, bel esprit
sparkling-fresh as Veuve Clicquot;
wasp-waist, smooth skin fit to fly,
cherry lip, cute 'college' eye:
eyes that say Louise Théo.

Nimble, rapid, pearly-white,
fine silk stockings drawn on tight,
lacy throat, neat-latticed back;
nose so small, so spruce and trim;
ringlets on the collar's rim,
nodding, ruddy as cognac.

Two green eyes go tango-dancing:
nothing can be more entrancing
than her nose's pert retroussé!
Empress, you'd give up your page
to compare, for looks and age,
with my white and silky pussy.

You've not seen her wield the comb,
when the royal ringlets come
tumbling on la rose épaule!
You've not heard the joyful note
trilled, when on her arms and throat
thick and fresh the soapsuds fall!

Sundays! Carefree, negligée,
she delights in sounds of day,
undisturbed till nine or ten.
While the maid is out at Mass,
with what joy the lazy lass
frowsts in rosy counterpane!

Little cap to hide the tresses,
lacy-white; two laundered dresses
poised above the long-backed seat;
high boots' pointed tips, well-glossed,
peep at bedside, blithely tossed,
jettisoned by tiny feet.

Up she bounds all feather-light
from her bed. So svelte and white
on the horsehair! Not for millions,
not for bride of lordly race
could I ever trade such grace,
nor for sweethearts at cotillions.

Now I ring: she's dressed, to admit
me for lunch. We gaily eat
pair of eggs and perfect steak.
Picturesque Chapultepec!
Rich wine, one demi-bouteille
sends our carriage on its way.

Nowhere, from La Sorpresa's entry
to the steps of the Jockey Club,
is there a Spanish, French, or Yankee
lass of such dazzle, dash and duende
as the duchess of Duke Job.

Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera
Translator: Timothy Adès



   Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera    
Recitado por Héctor Azar
Original version