THAIS

THAIS
Newman Levy
Newman Levy, Opera Guyed; rep. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York
Music: “The Son of a Gambolier”/”Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech.”

Reprinted in Ed Cray, The Erotic Muse (New York: Pyramid Special, 1972) pp. 58-59.

One time in Alexandria, wicked Alexandria,
The night life was exciting in that city by the Nile.
There lived, historians report, the pride of Nile’s famed resort,
The pride of Pharaoh’s noble court, and Thais was her name.

Nearby, in peace and piety, avoiding all society,
There dwelt a band of holy men who’d built a refuge there,
And in the desert’s solitude, they spurned all earthly folly to
Devote their days to holy works, to fasting, and to prayer.

Now, one monk whom I solely mention of this group of holy men
Was known as Athaneal; he was famous near and far,
At fasting bouts or prayer with him, no other could compare with him,
At grand and lofting praying he could do the course in par.

One night while sleeping heavily (from fighting with the Devil, he
Had gone to bed exhausted while the dun was shining still),
He had a vision Freudian and though he was annoyed he an-
Alyzed it is the well-known style of Doctors Jung and Brill.

He dreamed of Alexandria, of wicked Alexandria,
A crowd of men were sheering in a manner somewhat rude,
At Thais, who was dancing there, and Athaneal, glancing there,
Observed her do the shimmy in what artists call the nude.

Said he, “This dream fanatical disturbs my thoughts monastical,
Some unsuppressed desire, I feel, has found my monkish cell,
I blushed up to the hat ‘o me to view the girl’s anatomy,
I’ll go to Alexandria and save her soul from hell.

So pausing not to wonder where he’d put his summer underwear,
He quickly packed his evening clothes, his toothbrush and a vest,
And to guard against exposure, he threw in some woolen hosiery,
And bidding all the boys goodbye, he started on his quest.

This monk, though warned and fortified, was deeply shocked and mortified
To find on his arrival wild debauchery in sway,
While some lay in a stupor sent by booze of more than two percent,

The others were behaving in a most immoral way.
Said he to Thais, “Pardon me, although this job is hard on me,
I gotta put you wise to what I come down here to tell,
What’s all this sousin’ gettin’ you? Cut out this pie-eyed retinue,
Let’s hit the trail together, kid, and save your soul from hell.”

Although this bold admonishment caused Thais some astonishment.
She coyly answered, “Say, you said a heaping mouthful, Bo,
This bur’s a frost, I’m telling you. The brand of hooch they’re selling you
Ain’t like the stuff we used to get, so let’s pack up and go.”

So forth from Alexandria, from wicked Alexandria,
Across the desert sands they go beneath the blazing sun,
Till Thais, parched and sweltering, finds refuge in the sheltering
Seclusion of a convent and the habit of a nun.

But now the monk is terrified to find his fears are verified,
His holy vows of chastity have cracked beneath the strain,
Like one who has a jag on, he cried out in grief and agony,
“I’d sell my soul to see her do the shimmy once again.”

Alas! His pleading clamorous, though passionate and amorous,
Have come too late; the courtesan has danced her final dance.
The monk says, “That’s a joke on me, for that there dame to croak on me.
I hadn’t oughter passed her up the time I had the chance.”

THAIS