Demotic Nocturne (Nocturne vulgaire)

by Arthur Rimbaud

A breath cleaves operatic breaches in the walls
of shimmery, dilapidated marble halls,

disperses all the boundaries of hearth and home,
and blurs the casement windows with a faery foam.

One foot planted on a gargoyle, shimmying along
the grapevine, I fell into this coach whose chaise longue

interior bespoke antique, as did the panes
of bull’s-eye glass, the panels boasting marbled veins.

Hearse of my sleep, my bucolic folly caravan veers on
the verge of the overgrown high road to Bygone.

And swirling in a window-bubble north-north-west
I saw pale lunar figures, leaves, and breasts.

Deep bottle blue and verdigris invade the scene,
unhitch the horses teetering along the scree.

This is where you whistle up the storm of Sodom,
vicious beasts, and armies wreaking drunken bedlam.

Postilion and dream animals, will they reprise
themselves below the suffocating forest trees,

to plunge me headlong in the fount of silk? And send
us lashed across these lapping waters I have penned,

across a floor awash with shattered glass and drink
to roll before the barking mastiffs black as ink,

whose jaws dispense a cataract of awful foam…
a breath disperses all the boundaries of home.