The Warning (L’Avertisseur)

Any man who calls himself so
Has in his heart a yellow serpent
Installed as on a throne discontent
When man says “I want,” Snake says “No!”

Plunge into the eyes transfixed
Of Satyr or Nix
The snake says “Remember your duty!”

Plant a garden, have a brood
Polish verse or carve wood
Snake asks “is this your last night among beauty?”

Whether or not he pays the piper
Man does not pass a single morning
Without suffering the flickering warning
Of the unendurable viper!

[Original poem here.]

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