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Swarming city, drenched with dreams
Where ghosts grab you in plain day, defiant
Mystery coursing through canals and streams
Like sap through the veins of an ancient giant

One morning I was out walking in the sad streets
All the houses were stretched by the gloom
Looking like a sunken fleet
A set dressed for an actor’s doom

A yellow fog flooded around every lamp pole
I steeled my nerves and steadied my feet
I whispered calmly to my shaky soul
While carts rumbled in the cobbled streets

Suddenly, an old man whose yellow hue
Mimicked the color of the rainy sky
I nearly said to him “What can I do–?”
But for the menace which narrowed his eyes

He stood before me
His gaze just sharpening the frosty wind
His pointy beard as stiff as a sword
Jutting forward like Judas’s chin

His mangled back seemed less bent than broken
Against his leg it made a perfect crook
His walking stick completed the joke
Gave him the gait and the awkward look

Of a wounded animal
Through snow and mud he trampled along
His dirty moccasins stamped down the dead
Like all creation had done him wrong

His doppleganger followed behind him
His very double forged in the same hell
Two uncanny ancient twins
Processing together towards an unknown goal

What evil doings had I happened upon?
What mocking demon made what I had just spied?
I blinked seven times on this cursed dawn
Each time this wicked man had multiplied!

You might laugh at my coming unglued
Maybe you wouldn’t shiver in my stead
But notwithstanding their decrepitude
These seven phantoms were eternally undead

To have endured an eighth apparition
Might be the last thing I would ever do
So to escape my demolition
I turned my back upon this retinue

Exasperated like a drunk seeing double
I rushed home and barred my door against the city
Body in fever and my mind in trouble
Haunted by impossibility

My reason vainly tried to take command
But visions they would not abandon me
So like a mastless ship estranged from the land
My soul just danced on a borderless sea!

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The Ghost (Le Revenant)

Like an angel with eyes of a deer
I’ll come to your room and glide near
Not disturbing the shadow shapes Asleep in the folds of the drapes
I’ll caress your hair like the worms
That play around graves in swarms
And give you kiss after kiss
As cold as the moon in the mist
When the sun bleeds in the dawn
In the place I stood I’ll be gone
But that empty space will be cold
Others will try tenderness
To woo your youthfulness
But I will rule you with fear till you’re old

–Translated by Jeffrey Dorchen

[Original poem here.]

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