The Clock, calm evil god, that makes us shiver,
With threatening finger warns us each apart:
“Remember! 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 ‘Remember!’ Like an insect shrill
The present chirps, ‘With Nevermore I’m reckoned,
I’ve pumped your lifeblood with my loathsome bill.’
Remember! Souviens-toi I Esto Memor!
My brazen windpipe speaks in every tongue.
Each moment, foolish mortal, is like ore
From which the precious metal must be wrung.
Remember. Time the gamester (it’s the law)
Wins always, without cheating. Daylight wanes.
Night deepens. The abyss with gulfy maw
Thirsts on unsated, while the hour-glass drains.
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!’”
Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)
© RuMoHoR 2001—2014