Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Tomorrow / today is Melbourne Cup Day, and I think that this is a beautiful thing. Why? Because it is a public holiday, and therefore a day in which more people than usual are doing NOTHING, absolutely nothing. There is such waste – betting money spent. And sure, a few crooks will be sitting at the top, scooping up the cream. But this is a small blot on something with many advantages. (Oh sure, you could get all Marxist and claim that this short time of debauchery is just “a spoonful of sugar” to help the foul-tasting medicine of wage slavery go down. But who wants to be thinking sensibly at this time of the morning?)

I found, today, a Baudelaire poem that I think I shall pin up above my desk or somewhere like that – actually, perhaps not near my desk, as it would better sit above those places that I go to hide when I should be forcibly farting out essays. Nonetheless, here it is, in a translation by James McGowan. (Wow, there’s a squashed spider in the book – it’s the most perfectly symmetrical things that I’ve seen all day, so long as one discounts the blob of dried spider fluid that is also preserved between the pages.)

The Clock ("L'Horloge")

The Clock! a sinister, impassive god
Whose threatening finger says to us: 'Remember!
Soon in your anguished heart, as in a target,
Quivering shafts of Grief will plant themselves;

Vaporous Joy glides over the horizon
The way a slyphid flits into the wings;
Each instant eats a piece of the delight
A man is granted for his earthly season.

Three thousand and six hundred times an hour
The Second sighs, Remember! - Suddenly
That droning insect Now says: I am Past
And I have sucked your life into my nostril!

Esto memor! Remember! Souviens-toi!
(My metal throat speaks out in every language)
Don't let the minutes, prodigal, be wasted-
They are the ore you must refine for gold!

Remember, Time is greedy at the game
And wins on every roll! perfectly legal.
The day runs down; the night comes on: remember!
The water-clock bleeds into the abyss.

Soon sounds the hour when Chance the heavenly,
When Virtue the august, eternal virgin,
When even (oh! your last retreat) Repentance,
Will tell you: Die old coward! it's too late!'

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No more comment from me. Other than to say that 'one more for the road' is an imprudent motto when the road extends only from the computer to bed...

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