Alexandria (Thais)

Words: Newman Levy in "Opera Guyed," 1923
Tune:
Source: Coeur d'Ennui Letchers Guild Songbook Edited by William Coeur du Boeuf

One time in Alexandria, in wicked Alexandria,
Where nights were wild with revelry, and life was but a game.
There lived, so the report is, an adventuress and courtesan,
The pride of Alexandria, and Thais was her name.

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

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

One day while sleeping heavily (from wrestling with the devil, he
Had gone to bed exhausted while the sun was shining still);
He had a vision Freudian, and though he was annoyed,
He analyzed it in the well-known style of doctors Jung and Brill.

He dreamed of Alexandria, of wicked Alexandria,
A crowd of men were cheering in a manner rather rude,
As Thais who was dancing there, and Athanael glancing there,
Observed her do the shimmy in what artists call the nude.

Said he, "This dream fantastical disturbs my thoughts monastical.
Some unsuppressed desire, I fear, has found my monkish cell;
I blushed up to the hat o' me to view that 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.
To guard against exposure, he threw in some woollen hosiery,
And bidding all the boys good-bye, he started on his quest.

The 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 that two per cent,
The others were behaving in a most immoral way.

Said he to Thais, "Pardon me, although this job is hard on me,
I got to put you wise to what I came down here to tell.
What's all this sousin' gettin' you? Cut out this pie-eyed retinue.
Let's his the road 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 burg'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 in 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 cries out in grief and agony,
"I'd sell my soul to see her do the shimmy once again."

Alas, his pleadings clamorous, though passionate and amorous,
Have come too late -- the courtesan has danced her final dance.
Says he, "Now 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."

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