Sidewak Poetry #38

Evening Twilight

Now is the graceful evening, friend of the criminal; 
Now it comes like an accomplice, stealthily; the sky 
Closes slowly like a gigantic bedroom, 
And Man, impatient, changes to wild beast.

O evening, lovable eveningtime, longed for by him 
Whose arms can truthfully say: Today 
We have worked! — It is evening that lightens 
Spirits consumed by a fierce sorrow, 
The stubborn savant whose forehead grows heavy, 
And the bent laborer gaining again his bed.

Meanwhile unhealthy demons heavily awake,
Like business men, in the atmosphere,
And fly and strike the shutters and the awning.
Across those lights the wind tortures
Prostitution is ignited in the streets;
Like an ant-hill she opens her escapes,
Spawning all over a secret path,
Like an enemy's sudden attack;
She stirs on the breast of the city of dung
Like a worm that steals his meals from Man.
Here and there one hears kitchens hissing,
The screaming of theatres and orchestras roaring;
The plain tables, where gambling throws its pleasures,
Fill up with bawds and cheats, accomplices,
And thieves, who know no truce nor grace,
Soon go to get to work, they also,
Depart to force gently safes and doors
For a few days' living and to clothe their mistresses.

Reflect, O my soul, in this most solemn time,
And close your ears to this roar.
It is the hour when the sorrows of the ill are sharpened.
Dark Night grips them by the throat; they fulfill

Their fate and move into the common whirlpool; 
The hospitals are full of their sighing. — More than one 
Will no more come back to seek the perfumed soup, 
Beside the fire, at night, by a beloved soul.

Still most, most of them have never known 
Home's sweetness nor have they really lived.

[Charles Baudelaire, trans Geoffrey Wagner.] 

[Manet, the bar at the Foiles-Bergere, 1882.]

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