Sunday, May 17, 2015

Episode of a Night in May / Arthur Symons

from Scènes de la Vie de Bohème


Episode of a Night in May

The coloured lanterns lit the trees, the grass,
The little tables underneath the trees,
And the rays dappled like a delicate breeze
          Each wine-illumined glass.

The pink light flickered, and a shadow ran
Along the ground as couples came and went;
The waltzing fiddles sounded from the tent,
          And Giroflée began.

They sauntered arm in arm, these two; the smiles
Grew chilly, as the best spring evenings do.
The words were warmer, but the words came few,
          And pauses fell at whiles.

But she yawned prettily. "Come then," said he.
He found a chair, Veuve Clicquot, some cigars.
They emptied glasses and admired the stars,
          The lanterns, night, the sea,

Nature, the newest opera, the dog
(So clever) who could shoulder arms and dance;
He mentioned Alphonse Daudet's last romance,
          Last Sunday's river-fog,

Love, Immortality; the talk ran down
To these mere lees: they wearied each of each,
And tortured ennui into hollow speech,
          And yawned, to hide a frown.

She jarred his nerves; he bored her — and so soon.
Both were polite, and neither cared to say
The word that mars a perfect night of May.
          They watched the waning moon.

Arthur Symons (1865-1945)
from Days and Nights, 1889

[Poem is in the public domain in Canada, the United States, and the European Union]

Arthur Symons biography

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