Historic Evening

Historic Evening

an evening, for example, when the naive tourist has retired

from our economic horrors, a master’s hand awakens

the meadow’s harpsichord;

they are playing cards at the bottom of the pond,

mirror conjuring up favorites and queens;

there are saints, veils, threads of harmony,

and legendary chromatics in the setting sun.

He shudders as the hunts and hordes go by.

Comedy drips on the grass stages.

And the distress of the poor and of the weak

on those stupid planes! Before his slave’s vision,

Germany goes scaffolding toward moons;

Tartar deserts light up; ancient revolts ferment

in the center of the Celestial Empire;

over stairways and armchairs of rock, a little world, wan and flat,

Africa and Occidents, will be erected.

a ballet of familiar seas and nights,

worthless chemistry and impossible melodies. The same bourgeois magic

wherever the mail-train sets you down.

Even the most elementary physicist feels that it is no longer possible

to submit to this personal atmosphere, fog of physical remorse,

which to acknowledge is already an affliction. No!

The moment of the seething cauldron, of seas removed,

of subterranean conflagrations, of the planet swept away,

and the consequent exterminations, certitudes indicated

with so little malice by the Bible and by the Norns

and for which serious persons should be on the alert