After Dark

Prisoners bang on the bars of their cells -
A sound that rattles my nerves with shame!
The Aljube jail, for old women and children,
Rarely encloses a titled lady!

I feel so ill as the lights come on
I worry I might have an aneurysm;
The sight of the jails, crosses, cathedral,
Fills and sinks my heart with tears.

One floor after another lights up,
And cafés, restaurants, tobacco and other shops
Spread like a sheet their white reflections.
The moon brings jugglers, the circus, to mind.

On an ancient square two churches raise
The clergy's black, funereal spectre;
I sketch there a lonely, dour inquisitor,
Daring to extend myself into History.

In quarters which the earthquake flattened
Equal, straight buildings wall me in; (3)
Everywhere else I face steep streets
And the tolling of pious, monastic bells.

But gracing a common, public square
With lovers' benches and lithe pepper trees
A war-sized monument cast in bronze
Stands, on a pillar, for an epic that was! (4)

And in this assemblage of stunted bodies
I think of the Fever, imagine the Cholera;
Returning soldiers look sombre as ghosts;
A gleaming palace stands opposite a hovel.

Mounted patrolmen set out from the archways
Of army barracks that once were convents;
The Middle Ages! Others, on foot,
Range through the capital, now turning cold.

Sad town! I dread you'll arouse a dead passion
In me! I mourn upon seeing your elegant
Ladies so white in the lamp-lit distance,
Leaning and smiling at jewellers' windows.

Coming down from the department stores,
The florists and dressmakers wrench my gut;
They're hardly able to hold up their heads,
And many are walk-ons and chorus girls.

Even in sordid human tableaus
I, with my pince-nez, find subject matter:
I enter the beerhouse; at the immigrants' tables,
Harshly lit, they laugh and play dominoes.

by Cesário Verde

Comments (1)

Doth a bee be a flower? ... Doth it deflower by a flowering bee? Doth a bee fly by thy flower? ... Doth it flee for free Flowers grow tall to tower... Doth thy power be by flower? When ye bee by a flower.... Is it thy next to ending hour? Is thy flower only yous or only our? ... Doth thy rain pour down yon hour? Bumbling bees buzz busily by.... Doth it say exiting 'Bye, bye? Are we stung when flung and hung real high? ... Do we go on indeed goodbye? What be these stingers that die? ... Do they inject through sleighted thigh? Why do we creatures of nature rely? ... Do we silently knowingly reply? What be this waspy wisp? ... Is it tendered and cooked real crisp? Why hath ye bad bumble bee to land on yon bar-b-que grill? ... Did'st yee thrill to fall and not chill? Ye be hot and hotter yet.... Cooked for breakfast or lunch room's bet, you bet. Peanutty brittle full of full dripping spittle... Not nearly enough but way too much little. Rain storms thunder and rumble through... Next morning is nothing left but wet willies stew due dew. Good poem. Gave it a tenor too. God bless all poets and readers alike-MJG.