You Mock Me


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english translation

You Mock Me

You mock me, little brat.
If I had a head as hot
as the fire under your coat
I’d have no need of a hat
any more than a feeble sot
needs a coat to warm his fat.

That coal you thought was black
is burning up in your sac,
where it’s hotter than any ember.
But a covered fire will blaze,
smokier, higher, wilder,
and longer than you’ll remember.

My head was frozen stiff
and my brain a cracked hieroglyph
when I emptied them into this mule
for four years straight, like a fool,
and wanting to beat him dead,
I beat myself instead.

And that crazy sapper hick
pulled up at the wrong pile of brick
at the wrong turn in the road
so rattled and lost, his load
of crude explosives got shaken
and blew his brains to bacon.


      — Translated from the French of Pierre de Ronsard
              by Terese Coe



original French poem

“Tu te moques, jeune ribaude”

Tous les charbons ardents
Allument là-dedans
Le plus chaud de leur braise ;
Un feu couvert en sort,
Plus fumeux et plus fort
Que l’air d’une fournaise.

J’ai la tête froide et gelée,
D’avoir ma cervelle écoulée
A ce limonier, par l’espace
De quatre ans, sans m’en savoir grâce,
Et lui voulant vaincre le cul,
Moi-même je me suis vaincu.

Ainsi, le fol sapeur
Au fondement trompeur
D’un Boulevard s’arrête,
Quand le faix, tout soudain
Ebranlé de sa main,
Lui écrase la tête.