HENRI CAZALIS «DANCE OF DEATH»
Rata-tat-tat, Death rhythmically
Striking a tomb with his heel,
Death at midnight plays a dance,
See-saw-saw, upon his old fiddle.
The winter wind blows, the night is dark,
The lime-trees creak and groan;
Pale skeletons flit across the gloom,
Leaping beneath their great shrouds.
Rata-tat-tat, all shiver to hear,
The bones of the dancers knock;
A lascivious couple sits down on the moss,
As if to taste long lost delights.
See-saw-saw, Death continues
To scrape on his shrill violin.
A veil has slipped! The dancer is bare!
Her partner grasps her with passion.
They say she’s a marchioness or baroness,
And the young beau a mere wheelwright — How awful!
And look how she yields,
As if that peasant were a baron!
Rata-tat-tat, what a saraband!
Such circles of corpses all holding hands!
See-saw-saw, you can see in the crowd
King frolicking together with peasant!
But hush! Suddenly the dance is over,
All jostle and flee–the cock has crowed;
Ah, what a wonderful night for the underdog!
Long live death and equality!
Translation: Roderick Shaw