Here is pleasant evening, the criminal’s friend;
it comes stealthily like an accomplice with a wolf’s tread;
the sky closes slowly like a huge alcove,
and impatient man is changed to a wild beast.
O evening, sweet evening, longed for by the man
whose arms can say without deceit:
To-day we have worked! – It is evening
that relieves minds consumed by savage grief,
the scholar whose brow grows heavy
and the bent workman returning to his bed.
Meanwhile foul demons in the atmosphere
awaken heavily like business men and, flying,
knock against the shutters and the porch.
Through the lights flickering in the wind
Prostitution begins to flare in the streets;
like an ant-heap it opens its doors;
everywhere it traces a secret path
like an enemy attempting a surprise;
it moves in the bosom of the filthy city
like a worm stealing man’s food.
Here and there you can hear kitchens hiss,
theaters yelp and orchestras snore;
the cheap eating-houses, whose delight is gambling,
are filled with whores and sharks, their accomplices,
and the robbers, who know neither truce nor mercy,
they too are soon going to begin their work,
and gently force open doors and
coffers to live a few days and clothe their mistresses.
Recollect yourself, my soul, at this solemn moment,
and shut your ear to the roar.
It is the hour when the pains of the sick grow worse!
Dark Night takes them by the throat;
they end their life and go towards the common abyss;
the hospital is filled with their sighs. – More than one
will come no more to seek his fragrant soup,
in the evening, by the fireside beside a soul he loves.
Moreover, most of them have never known
home’s sweetness and have never lived!