Delmore Schwartz

(8 December 1913 - 11 July 1966 / Brooklyn / New York / United States)

Parlez-Vous Francais? - Poem by Delmore Schwartz

Caesar, the amplifier voice, announces
Crime and reparation. In the barber shop
Recumbent men attend, while absently
The barber doffs the naked face with cream.
Caesar proposes, Caesar promises
Pride, justice, and the sun
Brilliant and strong on everyone,
Speeding one hundred miles an hour across the land:
Caesar declares the will. The barber firmly
Planes the stubble with a steady hand,
While all in barber chairs reclining,
In wet white faces, fully understand
Good and evil, who is Gentile, weakness and command.

And now who enters quietly? Who is this one
Shy, pale, and quite abstracted? Who is he?
It is the writer merely, with a three-day beard,
His tiredness not evident. He wears no tie.
And now he hears his enemy and trembles,
Resolving, speaks: "Ecoutez! La plupart des hommes
Vivent des vies de desespoir silenciuex,
Victimes des intentions innombrables. Et ca
Cet homme sait bien. Les mots de cette voix sont
Des songes et des mensonges. Il prend choix,
Il prend la volonte, il porte la fin d'ete.
La guerre. Ecoutez-moi! Il porte la mort."
He stands there speaking and they laugh to hear
Rage and excitement from the foreigner.


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Read poems about / on: justice, evil, pride, sun, shopping



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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