On A Fan

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CHICKEN-SKIN, delicate, white,  
 Painted by Carlo Vanloo,  
Loves in a riot of light,  
 Roses and vaporous blue;  
 Hark to the dainty frou-frou!
Picture above, if you can,  
 Eyes that could melt as the dew,—  
This was the Pompadour’s fan!  

See how they rise at the sight,  
 Thronging the CEil de Boeuf through,
Courtiers as butterflies bright,  
 Beauties that Fragonard drew,  
 Talon-rouge, falbala, queue,  
Cardinal, Duke,—to a man,  
 Eager to sigh or to sue,—
This was the Pompadour’s fan!  

Ah, but things more than polite  
 Hung on this toy, voyez-vous!  
Matters of state and of might,  
 Things that great ministers do;
 Things that, may be, overthrew  
Those in whose brains they began;  
 Here was the sign and the cue,—  
This was the Pompadour’s fan!  


Where are the secrets it knew?
 Weavings of plot and of plan?  
—But where is the Pompadour, too?  
 This was the Pompadour’s Fan!

© Henry Austin Dobson