Tuesday, 22 January 2019

To My Lamp - Edmond Rostand

Dear lamp, my old friend, by your light
My books I’d read and verses write.
You’d watch behind your humble shade
While sleep on my ruddy eyelids played.
Then ashamed I’d startle aright!

I’d speak the grave secrets on my mind,
The hopes I’d never let others find.
Copper-stamped, squat-featured and rotund,
My only true friend while I felt shunned.
Credenzas still sometimes bear your kind.

We lived under the roof, way up high;
My only joys were with you nearby.
While carriages rolled through sleeping streets
I hunched at the table, scratched my sheets,
And by your trembling light, I’d versify.

I built a realm from your golden dust,
When came the dawn, as indeed it must,
Pink like a newborn the sun would rise
In shivering blue-green Paris skies;
Passersby would note you still I trust.

True, your age could sometimes make you leak.
Your clockwork was remarkably weak.
Again and again I’d have to turn
Your key, but your wick refused to burn.
Your stubborn dimness provoked my pique.

You’d force me to guess the reason why;
Your wayward ways I’d often decry.
I thought you did it all for sport
When in a mood of a puzzling sort
Suddenly you’d give a rumbling sigh —

Then brusquely, senselessly, you’d go out.
And in the morning, when I’m back about
My work, I’d heap you with calumny,
For I’d slept. But pardon, now I see —
How perhaps you’re not quite such a lout,

How you were but looking after me.
Your poor master, whom you would not see
Hunching and scratching, so late at night.
That’s why, good lamp, you shut off your light.
Just to give a gift of sleep to me.

Edmond Rostand (Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand) (1868 - 1918) France
Translator's name not stated
Source: The Poetry of Edmond Rostand
“A ma Lampe,” Poem III of Les Musardises

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