Poems and symbolism
To lift a weight so heavy,
Would take your courage, Sisyphus!
Although one's heart is in the work,
Art is long and Time is short.
Far from famous sepulchers
Toward a lonely cemetery
My heart, like muffled drums,
Goes beating funeral marches.
Many a jewel lies buried
In darkness and oblivion,
Far, far away from picks and drills;
Many a flower regretfully
Exhales perfume soft as secrets
In a profound solitude.
The Death of the Poor
It's Death that comforts us, alas! and makes us live;
It is the goal of life; it is the only hope
Which, like an elixir, makes us inebriate
And gives us the courage to march until evening;
Through the storm and the snow and the hoar-frost
It is the vibrant light on our black horizon;
It is the famous inn inscribed upon the book,
Where one can eat, and sleep, and take his rest;
It's an Angel who holds in his magnetic hands
Sleep and the gift of ecstatic dreams
And who makes the beds for the poor, naked people;
It's the glory of the gods, the mystic granary,
It is the poor man's purse, his ancient fatherland,
It is the portal opening on unknown Skies!
When you will sleep, O dusky beauty mine,
Beneath a monument fashioned of black marble,
When you will have for bedroom and mansion
Only a rain-swept vault and a hollow grave,
When the slab of stone, oppressing your frightened breast
And your flanks now supple with charming nonchalance,
Will keep your heart from beating, from wishing,
And your feet from running their adventurous course,
The tomb, confidant of my infinite dreams
(For the tomb will always understand the poet)
Through those long nights from which all sleep is banned, will say:
"What does it profit you, imperfect courtesan,
Not to have known why the dead weep?"
— And like remorse the worm will gnaw your skin.
Impassive clock! Terrifying, sinister god,
Whose finger threatens us and says: "Remember!
The quivering Sorrows will soon be shot
Into your fearful heart, as into a target;
Nebulous pleasure will flee toward the horizon
Like an actress who disappears into the wings;
Every instant devours a piece of the pleasure
Granted to every man for his entire season.
Three thousand six hundred times an hour, Second
Whispers: Remember! — Immediately
With his insect voice, Now says: I am the Past
And I have sucked out your life with my filthy trunk!
Remember! Souviens-toi, spendthrift! Esto memor!
(My metal throat can speak all languages.)
Minutes, blithesome mortal, are bits of ore
That you must not release without extracting the gold!
Remember, Time is a greedy player
Who wins without cheating, every round! It's the law.
The daylight wanes; the night deepens; remember!
The abyss thirsts always; the water-clock runs low.
Soon will sound the hour when divine Chance,
When august Virtue, your still virgin wife,
When even Repentance (the very last of inns!),
When all will say: Die, old coward! it is too late!"