Romantic Allusions to Mardi-Gras

Max Jacob

(Action, vol. 1, n. 2, March 1920; Le Laboratoire central, 1921)

No, Monsieur Gambetta, Bolivar's taken his leave
We saw his top hat and his meteorite
Under the jet of the gas lamp's flare
Pierrot companion and cascade.
His smock at the end of the quay betrayed
I'm dining at home tonight.
The Seine has seen kings roll to the guillotine.
Night's horrors spy you from gothic dead-end streets.
O bicycle, your saddle is a velvet mask.
Love's opera boxes shivered in the Eastern breeze.
If we must die, Madame, hear me. Farewell!
Hemlines and hearts plummeted to the ground
And one curled one’s little finger to drink in style.
My life is a tango, my heart a grand-guignol.
Fate! A halo of fear hovers over Notre-Dame!
It's a whip, you fool, what you took for a fencing foil
Forgive him, Gerald, in the name of our love, forgive
I want no more kisses from you
Ah! When will you escape the penitentiary of love.
Women offered themselves like bitches in heat.
At times, after midnight, the Seine resembles Hell.
Come! Monsieur Beelzebub, I challenge you hard.
I'll crack you like a soft boiled egg. En garde!
One or the other of us must leave this earth,
He said! And there spread the immense, blank ennui of a moonless night.

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