The Paper Opera
Come in! Come in and see! You who scrape the Paris mud off other men's boots! You who empty chamber pots! You who sell scraps from the tables of the rich!
Come in and I will show you, cut out in paper, what you will never see for yourselves: the magnificent Paris Opera, a line of carriages at its doors, with fine lords and ladies stepping out; all in movement as real as life, cunningly painted, and set on springs and wheels. See the courtesans with their jewels, the fine young gallants with their gilt swords!
Then, once they're all inside, I'll lift the roof and show you, show you just this once, the gold on the ceiling and the ornate balconies, with all these fine folk looking down, looking down like gods from the clouds, looking down on the stage, where you'll see dancers spinning and leaping, while in the pit violinists work their bows, and trumpeters and flautists swell with music; while before them, behind the dancers, an enchanted palace rises up, and a blue sky arches over blooming trees - all this for the pleasure of the wealthy, of the well-fed, for the rouge-cheeked women in shining satin gowns... and for you, my dear spectators, my dear underfed brothers, my worn and weary sisters.
And then at the last, when your eyes have feasted on all these riches, on all this wanton play, finally - watch carefully, you won't want to miss this! -, the floor of the stage will open, and beneath it you will see... the flames, the flames rising from a far deeper pit, where no musicians play and only demons dance, demons with their pitchforks, dancing about the nude, bound bodies of the rich, for you will see there their reward, the reward of those who live for pleasure and idle diversion, while others sweat and suffer and die, die daily from hunger, exhaustion, and want.
Copyright 2008 James B. Chevallier