Examination At Midnight

Clark Ashton Smith

(Translated "from the French of Charles Pierre Baudelaire")

The pendulum, with brazen din,
Proclaims the midnight; we begin
To call to mind, ironically,
What uses we have made of this
Dead day that drops to the abyss:
Today—O, date prophetical,
Friday, thirteenth, in somber folly
Maugre the truth our heart maintains,
We, seeing still the light that sains,
Have walked in ways heretical.

We have blasphemed the might of Jesus,
The most irrefutable Lord,
And like a parasite at the board
Of some abominable Croesus,
To please the monstrous animal,
True servitor of Asmodai,
We have denied and flouted all
The things we love, repeatedly,
And all the things that we despise
Greeted with slavish flattery;
A servile executioner,
Bemoaned the wrong of our mesprise;
Bowed to immense Stupidity,
Stupidity, the minotaur;
Kissed with devotion prodigal
The brainless Matter's red and white,
And praised the dim phosphoric light
That is corruption's final pall.

Likewise, to drown the vertigo
Of vision, dream and dolor febrile,
We, the proud servant of the Lyre,
The Lyre whose glory is to show
The drunkenness of things funebral,
Again have drunk with no desire,
Have eaten still with no delight.
Swiftly blow out the lamp, for we
Would shroud us in the secrecy
And dark indifference of night!

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