Meditation – Devil’s Lake Daily Journal

Take it easy, Sadness. Settle down.

You asked for evening. Now, it’s come. It’s here.

A choking fog has blanketed the town,

infecting some with calm, the rest with fear.

While the squalid throng of mortals feels the sting

of heartless pleasure swinging its barbed knout

and finds remorse in slavish partying,

take my hand, Sorrow. I will lead you out,

away from them. Look as the dead years lurch,

in tattered clothes, from heaven’s balconies.

From the depths, regret emerges with a grin.

The spent sun passes out beneath an arch,

and, shroudlike, stretched from the antipodes,

—hear it, O hear, love!—soft night marches in.

*

Recueillement

Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.

Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:

Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,

Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,

Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,

Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,

Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d’eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,

Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;

Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le soleil moribond s’endormir sous une arche,

Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l’Orient,

Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.

Copyright 2017 David Yezzi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day, www.poets.org. Distributed by the Academy of American Poets. “Recueillement” is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day, www.poets.org. Distributed by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem: “In ‘Recueillement’ (‘Meditation’), Baudelaire tries to soothe his sadness by speaking to it like a lover. They go on a nighttime walk together. Many of us know, I think, exactly what it feels like to be in love with our own sadness and to have it transform everything around us.»  — David Yezzi

About Charles Baudelaire: Charles Baudelaire was born in Paris in 1821. He is the author of “Les fleurs du mal» (1857) and “Petits poèmes en prose” (1869). Baudelaire died in 1867.

About David Yezzi: David Yezzi is the author of “Birds of the Air “(Carnegie Mellon Press, 2013). He teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and lives in Baltimore.

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