Harpagon, while his father wastes away,
Meditates, as those lips grow white and thin:
'Up in the loft we have somewhere, I'd say,
Enough old boards to do for him.'
Celimene coos: 'My heart is good; I am
Of course made beautiful by God as well.'
- Her heart! a shrivelled heart, smoked like a ham,
Re-heated in the flames of Hell!
A gazetteer who claims he's spreading light
Says to the poor, through smoke that suffocates:
'Where, then, do you perceive this lovely sight,
This Saviour whom you celebrate?'
Of libertines, none knows as well as I
These men who yawn in ennui, grieve and vow
And in their fecklessness set up the cry:
'I will be good, an hour from now!'
The Clock, in turn, says in a low voice: 'All
Are ripe, damned beings! Fragile Man, it's time.
You're deaf and blind, infected as a wall
An insect gnaws and undermines!'
And then Someone denied by all appears,
And mocking, proud, he tells them: 'From my vast
Ciborium you have communed for years
In celebrating my Black Mass!
You all have built me temples deep inside,
And kissed my filthy buttocks! Now you must
Recognize Satan by his laugh of pride,
Huge, ugly as this world of dust!
You hypocrites, can you believe these lies -
That one may mock the Master, play him tricks,
That one may really win a double prize,
To go to Heaven, and be rich?
I've thrilled and quivered, tracking down my prey,
Who now must pay the ancient hunter's fee,
As I transport you from the light of day,
Guests of my mournful levity,
Through the dense darkness of the land and rock,
Across the midden where your bones are thrown,
Into a palace large as I, one block,
And not of any tender stone,
Since it is made of universal Sin,
And of my glory, pain, and vanity!'
- But then on high an angel will begin
To sound the note of victory
For those whose hearts say: 'Blest be your commands
O Lord! Your lash is for our benefit!
My soul is not a plaything in your hands,
Whose providence is infinite.'
And so delicious is the trumpet's call
These evenings of the holy harvest days,
It filters like an ecstasy in all
Who listen as it sings their praise.
Přeložil James McGowan