three meditations

by Ang Kia Yee

Meditation
Charles Baudelaire translated by David Yezzi

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.

Meditation
David St. John

after Baudelaire

Quiet now, sorrow; relax. Calm down, fear …
You wanted the night? It’s falling, here,
Like a black glove onto the city,
Giving a few some peace … but not me.

I think, well, almost everyone I know
Loves to be whipped by pleasure—right, Killer?—
As they stroll the boardwalk, parading their despair.
So why don’t you come too? But instead, with me,

Away from all these tattered ghosts leaning off
The sky’s balcony like last year’s lovers;
We’ll watch everything we regret step from the sea

Dripping … while the dead sun drags its arc
Towards China. Shroud of my heart, listen. Listen—
How softly the night steps toward us.

the last one, Meditation on a Grapefruit, is here.

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