Charles Baudelaire

The Clock

Impassive clock! Terrifying, sinister god, Whose finger threatens us and says: " 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: - Immediately With his insect voice, Now says: I am the Past And I have sucked out your life with my filthy trunk! Remember, Time is a greedy player Who wins without cheating, every round! It's the law. The daylight wanes; the night deepens; 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!" Translated by - William Aggeler The Clock Terrible Clock! God without mercy; mighty Power! Saying all day, " Remember and beware: There is no arrow of pain but in a tiny hour Will make thy heart its target, and stick and vibrate there. "Toward the horizon all too soon and out of sight Vaporous Pleasure, like a sylphide, floats away; Each instant swallows up one crumb of that delight Accorded to each man for all his mortal day." The Second says, three thousand six hundred times an hour, Look, the wingèd insect Now doth sit Upon thy vein, and shrilleth, 'I am Nevermore, And I have sucked thy blood; I am flying away with it!' "Soon, soon, the hour will strike, when Hazard, he that showed A god-like face, when Virtue - thy bride, but still intact — When even Repentance (oh, last inn along the road!) Will say to thee, 'Die, coward. It is too late to act.'" Translated by - Edna St. Vincent Millay The Clock The Clock, calm evil god, that makes us shiver, With threatening finger warns us each apart: Soon the vibrant woes will quiver, Like arrows in a target, in your heart. To the horizon Pleasure will take flight As flits a vaporous sylphide to the wings. Each instant gnaws a crumb of the delight That for his season every mortal brings. Three thousand times and more, each hour, the second Whispers Like an insect shrill The present chirps, 'With Nevermore I'm reckoned, I've pumped your lifeblood with my loathsome bill.' Sooner or later, now, the time must be When Hazard, Virtue (your still-virgin mate), Repentance, (your last refuge), or all three - Will tell you, 'Die, old Coward. It's too late!'" Translated by - Roy Campbell

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