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Pyrenean Jingle, 1891

by C. B. P.

Petit ouvrage en langue anglaise, d'une trentaine de pages, broché, édité à Pau, par A. Lafon, 3 rue Henri IV, 1891, sans nom d'imprimeur. Pyrenean Jingle (Sonnailles pyrénéennes ) est un charmant recueil d'une poésie écrite en continu, pour commémorer un voyage effectué dans les Pyrénées françaises. Le livre n'est recensé ni à la Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), ni dans les bibliographies spécialisées sur les Pyrénées.

When autumn breezes blow so soft
From yonder distant hills ;
When the warm air is pure and clear,
Devoid of winter's chills ;  

When the great mountains have renewed
Their dazzling coats of snow,
And little ones for months all bare
Lie covered too below ;

When sun brown'd peasants gather in,
Through all these brilliant days,
And sheet-clad oxen carry home
Great loads of golden maize ;

When crimson tints are peeping through
The rich luxuriant trees,
Then is the time of all the year
To see the Pyrenees.


Come now and take a little tour
From way below where the Adour,
Winding about in pine grown lands,
Reaches the sea through shifting sands.


We'll start then from St-Jean-de-Luz
Shabby through age and want of use,
Proud that great Louis thither hied
To wed his royal Spanish bride :

 Fame things, alas, in varied tunes !
Its pride is now in Maccaroons.
And then along the dangerous shore
Where Biscay's surges ever roar,
Over the bleak and wind swept road
Once watered deep with foemen's blood,
To where lies Biarritz on its rocks
All open to the Ocean's shocks ;
It's light a beacon night and day
Over that wild, tempestuons Bay ;
Its once gay Palace now forgot,
Sad type of it's fair builder's lot.
Now Casino and great hotels
Attract Grand Dukes and other swells.
Here fortune's made but oft'ner marred
By the mere turning of a card ;
Here screeching fish wives burden the day

With their wild yells of " Sardines frai.... "
From that near height look down upon
The graceful spires of old Bayonne,
Clad in the armour which threw back
The allied army's fierce attack ;
'Till by fatigue and hunger done
It fell before great Wellington :
In those Napoleonic times
So full of glory - and of crimes.
Today such towers and massive walls
Are swept away with chemicals.
On through a land of vine and stream
More beautiful than a poet's dream,
The noble range of mountains white
Just now opening into sight ; -
Through quiet towns scarce known to fame,
Each with a queer Béarnese name ;
Along by quaint Orthez' tower and bridge,
Past Lescar on its church crowned ridge,

Around a spacions park we go,
And come at once on classic Pau.
 We'll stop and give a hurried glance
At this fair bit of pleasant France.
Vain task to try in jingling rhyme
To say enough of this fair clime,
It's lovers know the subtle charms,
And all reseek it's sheltering arms.
Stand on the Place, and study through
The details of that charming view ;
See river, hills and smiling plain,
Capped by the gorgeous snowy chain !
There stands Good Henry's old Château
Watching o'er the plain below.
There the great monarch loved so well
Was cradled in a tortoise shell.
In yon dark lane still stands the cot
Of the Royal Bernadotte.
Here games, and sports and pleasures reign,
And grumblers add, "nor clouds refrain".

Here stalwart chieftains armed with malls
Go knocking round the little balls,
While through all the country round
The fox is chased with horse and hound.

We'll spend a day upon the road
That leads direct to wild Eaux-Chaudes,
Over and through the rich côteaux
Dotted with picturesque châteaux.

From Sevignac look off upon,
As fair a sight as sun shines on,
The Pic du Midi wrapped in snow
Guarding the portals of Ossau,
The lovely stretch of vale between
Clothed in the richest autumn sheen.
With flocks and herds on mountain side
Whence shepherds'voices ring,
" While the valleys stand so thick with corn
They fairly laugh and sing". -
Stop for a rest at Louvie's inn
Close to the mountain torrent's din,
Here picknickers with joyous rout
Come with loud calls for Crêpes and trout.
At Laruns now the valley ends,
And the fine road at once ascends,
Around the Hourat's mighty mass-
Through that wild and awful pass-
Along the safe, but narrow edge
Hewn from the solid rocky ledge-
Along the bare, steep mountain sides
All seamed and scarred by dangerous slides-

Each gap along that lofty wall
Glistening with a water fall-
To where Eaux-Chaudes lies in neglect,
Its healing waters least elect.
But a delightful, cool retreat
During the Summer's greatest heat.
Retrace our steps and start upon
The road that takes us to Eaux-Bonnes.
And now the way, tho'still a climb,
Is peacefuller and less sublime ;
The stretch of valley opens too
Into a most entrancing view ;
With Laruns overgrown in moss,
Built in the form of Holy Cross ;
While behind in purest air
Towers the glittering Pic de Ger.
 To Argeles and Cauterets,
Over the famons Thermal Way,
By mountain gorge and rocky hill,
Triumph of Engineering skill.
Cauterets, e'er a great surprise
To every new arrival's eyes.
Wedged deep into the savage dell,
A pearl in it's rongh oyster shell,
A tiny city lies serene,
Set in bare rocks and hill sides green,

And filled with crowds that illness brings

To its abundant healing springs ! -
To Pont d'Espagne and Lac de Gaube,
With nature in its Autumn robe,
A jaunt to be remembered long
With this fair land of Vine and Song.
See Vigne-mâle's lofty peaks aglow

In their eternal ice and snow !
Where bold Russell goes to rest
Like the wild Eagle in his nest,
Finding a well earned summer's ease
On the monarch of our Pyrenees !
And now to Luz and St-Sauveur
Through woods of fragrant Pine and Fir ;

Here within this loopholed wall,
Where straggling sun-beams rarely fall,

The pious Templar knelt and prayed,
Safe sheltered from all hostile raid.
 See jutting from that wooded ridge
The beautiful and airy bridge,
Joining the mountain sides in one,
The famous Pont Napoléon !
 To Gavarnie the way is grand,
Huge Rocks, Bold Cliffs on every hand,
While the broad high ways never change
O'er torrents wild an cragged range.
And let us here a tribute pay
To the faithful French Cantonnier !
 Here from this rising ground we see
The Cirque in all its majesty,
Where sparkling Cascades dancing go
Over its terraces of snow
Our way will now be down to Lourdes
Blessed by all the thousands cured ;
Hither modern Pilgrims wend their way
At Mary's Shrine to praise and pray ;
Here faithful halt, and lame and blind
Relief for all their ills shall find.
  Next we come to bright Bagnères
Also in Holy Virgin's care ;
See peering all it's neighbors o'er,
The Pic du Midi de Bigorre.
Here brave Nansoutty perched on high
Watched o'er the storms, and clouds and sky ;
Here precious waters all are found
Gushing from every hillside round.
Once queen of all these watering places,
And wearing well her royal graces,
She cast her crown and passed it on
To her young sister, pert Luchon.
See where she lies embowered in trees,
E'er faithful to her D'Etignys !
Here all nations make resort,
Some for health and some for sport ;
Hundreds come to smooth their frowns,
But thousands come to show their gowns.

Here Roman altars oft are found
Buried deep beneath the ground,
Proving that in old yimes as now,
Men sinned, got cured, and paid a vow !

And now our little journey's done,
We've seen this land in Autumn sun.
Alps and Himalayas may
Much finer be in their rough way,
But for grand beauty with peaceful ease,

Commend me to the Pyrenees !


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