Every man worthy of the name
Has in his heart a yellow Snake
Installed as if upon a throne,
Who, if he says: "I will!" answers: "No!"
Plunge your eyes into the fixed gaze
Of Satyresses or Nixies,
The Fang says: "Think of your duty!"
Beget children, set out trees,
Polish verses, sculpture marble,
The Fang says: "Will you be alive tonight?
Whatever he may plan or hope,
Man does not live for an instant
Without enduring the warning
Of the unbearable Viper.
Contemplate them, my soul; they are truly frightful!
Like mannequins; vaguely ridiculous;
Strange and terrible, like somnambulists;
Darting, one never knows where, their tenebrous orbs.
Their eyes, from which the divine spark has departed,
Remain raised to the sky, as if they were looking
Into space: one never sees them toward the pavement
Dreamily bend their heavy heads.
Thus they go across the boundless darkness,
That brother of eternal silence. O city!
While about us you sing, laugh, and bellow,
In love with pleasure to the point of cruelty,
See! I drag along also! but, more dazed than they,
I say: "What do they seek in Heaven, all those blind?"