Sweet evening comes, friend of the criminal,
Like an accomplice with a light footfall;
The sky shuts on itself as though a tomb,
And man turns beast within his restless room.
o evening, night, so wished for by the one
Whose honest, weary arms can say: We've done
Our work today! - The night will bring relief
To spirits who consume themselves with grief,
The scholar who is bowed with heavy head,
The broken worker falling into bed.
Meanwhile, corrupting demons of the air
Slowly wake up like men of great affairs,
And, flying, bump our shutters and our eaves.
Against the glimmerings teased by the breeze
Old Prostitution blazes in the streets;
She opens out her nest-of-ants retreat;
Everywhere she clears the secret routes,
A stealthy force preparing for a coup;
She moves within this city made of mud,
A worm who steals from man his daily food.
One hears the hissing kitchens close at hand,
The playhouse screech, the blaring of a band.
The tables at the inns where gamesmen sport
Are full of swindlers, sluts, and all their sort.
Robbers who show no pity to their prey
Get ready for their nightly work-a-day
Of cracking safes and deftly forcing doors,
To live a few days more and dress their whores.
Collect yourself, my soul, in this grave time,
And shut out all this clamour from the slime.
This the time of sick men's sharpest pain!
Black night will grab their throats; they cry in vain,
And finish out their fate in common grave;
The hospital is filled with gasps. They have
No further need to think of evenings spent
At fireside-the fragrant soup, the friend.
But most of them have never known the call
Of friendly hearth, have never lived at all!
Přeložil James McGowan