Charles Baudelaire: “The Owls”

The Owls

Under the cover of darkened trees,
The owls have come to gather and wait.
Lined up in rows, they meditate
With fire-red eyes, like strange deities.

And there they sit, every single one,
Until the melancholic hour
When darkness nestles in its bower,
Pushing back the slanting sun.

Their postures serve to persuade
That in this world it’s wise to be afraid
Of too much movement and struggle for gain.

For the man who’s drunk on the shadows he chases
Is forever condemned to suffer the pain
Of having wanted to change places.

— Charles Baudelaire

Translated from French by Paul Weinfield, © 2013

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