To the Reader
Folly and error, stinginess and sin
Possess our spirits and fatigue our flesh.
And like a pet we feed our tame remorse
As beggars take to nourishing their lice.
Our sins are stubborn, our contrition lax;
We offer lavishly our vows of faitb
And turn back gladly to tbe path of filth,
Thinking mean tears will wash away our stains.
On evil's pillow lies the alchemist
Satan Thrice-Great, who lulls our captive soul,
And all the richest metal of our will
Is vaporized by his hermetie arts.
Truly tbe Devil pulls on all our strings!
In most repugnant objects we find charms;
Each day we're one step furtber into Hell,
Content to move across tbe stinking pit.
As a poor libertine will suck and kiss
The sad, tormented tit of some old whore,
We steal a furtive pleasure as we pass,
A shrivelled orange that we squeeze and press.
Close, swarming, like a million writhing worms,
A demon nation riots in our brains,
And, when we breathe, death flows into our lungs,
A secret stream of dull, lamenting cries.
If slaughter, or if arson, poison, rape
Have not as yet adomed our fine designs,
The banal eanvas of our woeful fates,
lt's only that our spirit laeks the nerve.
But there with all the jackets, panthers, hounds,
The monkeys, scorpions, the vultures, snakes,
Those howling, yelping, grunting, crawling brutes,
The infamous menagerie of vice,
One creature only is most foul and false!
Though making no grand gestures, nor great cries,
He wil1ingly would devastate the earth
And in one yawning swallow all the world;
He is Ennui! - with tear-filled eye he dreams
Of scaffolds, as he puffs his water-pipe.
Reader, you know this dainty monster too; \
- Hypocrite reader, - fellowman, -my twin!
Přeložil James McGowan