Charles Vildrac

Invective

MAN whom I work for, I am angry with you;
But not because you pay me to possess
My loveliest day of days, my dearest hours,
And for the right of fixing to your things my eyes;

I am not angry with you for the sake of light
Dancing elsewhere, upon the river and on flowers,
Nor for the sake of what my thought leaves otherwhere,
Nor even for my independence gone.

No, but because you have not made me love you and esteem you,
For all the hope I had of it
And my good-will ...

No, but because instead of joy,
You make me know
The ugliness of earning my own bread,
Yea, and the grief of helping one I scorn.

Yet I was very eager to absolve you,
If I could only find that you
Loved just a very little for itself
The task you give my hands and yours to do;
Had you been just a little like the farmer
Who does not need, to live in happiness among his beasts,
To calculate the money of their flesh and wool;
If I had only found
That you, in short, had some faith in the part you play,
Whate'er it was, then I had given to you in full
The reverence which is due to any beauty,
Then I had seen your words illuminated
By fire enough for joy and zest of duty.

But no, your actions showed me plain
That my toil, and your care and calculating
Had for their only aim your vulgar pelf;

And that my hands were your accomplices
And that my eyes were witnesses!

translated by Jethro Bithell

Poem Submitted: Friday, February 12, 2016

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