The Bad Monk (Le Mauvais Moine)

In ancient cloisters on their frescoed walls
Were painted truths of highest holy writ
Which cheered the pious entrails in the halls
Whose temperaments were cold as they were lit

Back then bloomed Jesus Christ from every seed
And more than one famed monk, forgotten now,
Took for his muse the graveyard strewn with weeds
And sang for Death as well as he knew how.

— My soul is now a tomb, grave cenobite,
I wander here in perpetuity;
And barren are this evil cloister’s walls.

O lazy monk! What will I learn to make
Out of the living dumb-show of my grief,
The labor of my hands and the love of my eyes?

–Translated by Emmy Bean

[See original poem here.]


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