Wednesday, February 19, 2014

a wag

by charles baudelaire

translated by louise varese

illustrated by konrad kraus

Pandemonium of New Year's Eve: chaos of snow and mud churned up by a thousand carriages glittering with toys and bonbons, swarming with cupidity and despair; official frenzy of a big city designed to trouble the mind of the most impervious solitary.

In the midst of this deafening hubbub, a donkey was trotting briskly along, belabored by a low fellow armed with a whip.

Just as the donkey was about to turn a corner,

a resplendent gentleman, all groomed, gloved, cruelly cravatted and imprisoned in brand new clothes, made a ceremonious bow to the humble beast, saying as he took off his hat: "A very happy and prosperous New Year to you!"

Then he turned with a fatuous air toward some vague companions, as though to beg them to make his satisfaction complete by their applause.

The donkey paid no attention to this elegant wag, and continued to trot zealously along where duty called.

As for me, I was suddenly seized by an incomprehensible rage against this bedizened imbecile, for it seemed to me that in him was concentrated all the wit of France.

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