Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eugène N. Marais - The Jack of Spades

Eugène N. Marais

The Jack of Spades
Eugène N. Marais

A drop of gall is in the sweetest wine
a tear in every tuneful twine
in every laugh a sigh of pain
in every rose a petal plain.
The one who through the dark
spies on our jolly lark
and whose laughter's last to fade,
is the Jack of Spades.

Sure and certain is the word:
The treasures that we gather up,
despite the strongest lock and cord
are saved for moth and rust alone.
We’re only tenants all
of dust and down
all hapless aides
to the Jack of Spades.

The joys of flesh and blood;
of curls that catch the sun
and cast a golden glow;
of dawn on every tender cheek
and eyes with starry splendour
are meek against his greater might.
Already wrinkles are engraved;
over all the maggots watch
only dust and ashes will endure:
for black and grim,
the highest card
over moveables and real estates
remains the Jack of Spades.

IV  L'Envoi
Surely this is all a joke!
We play along in this burlesque fun                        
hoodwinked with a mourning band
that even casts a shadow on the sun.
Why bother to lament?
Flute and violin still play a faint refrain,
And long the night that lies ahead.
And though perfect grace we’ll never attain,
yet shines the eye and glows the skin
and make the whole of winter a blossoming.
Thus undeluded
we but laugh along
on the last charades
of the Jack of Spades.

[Translated by Johann de Lange]