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￭ What the night sees
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2006-02-08 | | Submited by Ionescu Bogdan
Translated by Michael Benedikt
"Dear Lord, at the hour of my death,
give me the prayers of a priest, a linen shroud, a coffin made of pine
and a nice dry place."
--The Paternosters of a General
"Whether you die absolved or damned," muttered Scarbo into my ear that night, "your shroud shall be a spiderweb,
and I'll wrap up the spider right in there with you!
"Oh, let my shroud at least be"--I replied, with eyes red from so much weeping--some trembling leaf in whose hollow
the breezes of the lake may rock me!"
"No!" snickered that scoffing dwarf, "you shall be a feast for some dung-beetle who comes creeping out at dusk
to hunt down gnats blinded by the setting sun!"
Sobbing, more in tears than ever, I bitterly replied--"I suppose you'd like it still better yet were a tarantula with a stinger the size of an elephant's trunk to suck the living daylights out of me?"
"Now, now, console yourself," he interrupted, "for your shroud you shall have speckled bands of golden snake-skin,
in which I'll wrap you up as snug as any mummy."
"And from the shadowy crypt of Saint Benigne, where propped up against one wall we'll bury you bolt upright,
you'll be able to hear to your heart's content the weeping of little children in Limbo."
Translator's Notes: St. Benigne--an old Monastery in Dijon. Scarbo--Bertrand wrote many poems about Scarbo, a miniature devil, demi-urge, or Satanic assistant. Compare the 2 Scarbo poems directly above with the Scarbo which was the inspiration for the final, climactic piece in Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit. Tip: Or, scroll down for Scarbo. He will re-appear 'ere long..
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