Nerves

Yesterday I went to a place
Where people die of hunger;
Inspecting tomb-like rooms
I slipped on an unpredicted stair!

*

It must have been a miracle, surely it was,
That I clutched at a rotten plank
(In it a nail as in the arms of a cross ! ...)
I escaped with my life !

*

But carried away only half my heart.
Of mirth ? Barely a trace !
I bypassed the crowd like a cattle mart,
I was sick of the world...

*

Today I must call on the Baroness
Who, sitting on a satin couch,
Entertains with largesse ­
But tell her what ?
Mirrors will crack,
Candelabra shudder at the realism
And painted parrots
From beak to beak cry 'Socialism !'
Along the length of the ceiling.

*

So : I will take a seat
Hat in hand, then put it down,
And when the party's done,
Go home, a silent hypocrite.

by Cyprian Kamil Norwid

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