Distribution Automatique

Tuesday, December 30

Charles Baudelaire

*A Wag*

The New Year's Day upheaval was at its height- a chaos of mud
and snow churned up by a thousand carriages; a glitter of toys and
sweetmeats; a swarm of selfish greeds and heartaches- the officialized
delirium of a great metropolis, calculated to unbalance the sanest
loner's mind.

In all this uproar and pandemonium a donkey came trotting briskly
along; egged on by a lout wielding his whip.

As the donkey turned the corner of the pavement, a well-turned-out
gent, immaculately gloved and groomed and cruelly cravated,
encased in his brand-new outfit, bowed with great ceremony towards
the humble creature and said, as he raised his hat, "Here's wishing
you a Prosperous and Happy New Year!" Then he turned towards
his cronies with a fatuous grin on his face, as if inviting them to add
thier approval to his self-satisfaction.

The donkey took no notice of this foppish wag, and went galloping
along to wherever his business called him

As for me, I was suddenly filled with uncontrollable rage against
that superlative idiot, who struck me as the incarnation of the French


The Poems in Prose
translated by Francis Scarfe
London, 1989