Monday, November 12, 1990

Redneck Baudelaire

by Jethro Floyd Stillwater III

Now that Jesse Helms is making sure that art cleans up its act, several arts grants have gone to some "down home" types to counteract the influence of New York-based, liberal, secular, humanist, bleeding heart, commie-pinko highbrows. Recently, a major grant was issued to Jethro Floyd Stillwater III of the Alabama Institute of Animal Husbandry to support his ongoing translation of 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire. Wha? magazine is pleased as punch to include an example of Stillwater's work. Here is his translation of Baudelaire's poem, Spleen.

Bad Liver
Pluvus got mad at the whole town
Cause his son urinated
On a big floating verse of cold stamps
And all over them spooks
Just a rotting in the cemetary

My cat gits a pint outta my pickup
Getting all agitated like a repo man
With a corpse in his Ford Galaxy
Just a howling like a gouty old poet
A crying like one of them buried spooks

The bourbon makes me cry
And I hear granny's clock a tickin'
But that there depends
On the joy you get
From selling perfume

My old dead home is like one of them dogs a foaming
That I gotta take to Doc Jenkins
For that heartworm treatment
Turns out he had rabies and I had to put him down
Like Old Yeller
Next thing you know, this dame I met
Run off with "Beau" the butler
Cause a fancy lady
Will stab you in the back every time


Pluviôse, irrité contre la ville entière,
De son urne à grands flots verse un froid ténébreux
Aux pâles habitants du voisin cimetière
Et la mortalité sur les faubourgs brumeux.

Mon chat sur le carreau cherchant une litière
Agite sans repos son corps maigre et galeux;
L’âme d’un vieux poète erre dans la gouttière
Avec la triste voix d’un fantôme frileux.

Le bourdon se lamente, et la bûche enfumée
Accompagne en fausset la pendule enrhumée,
Cependant qu’en un jeu plein de sales parfums,

Héritage fatal d’une vieille hydropique,
Le beau valet de coeur et la dame de pique
Causent sinistrement de leurs amours défunts.

Originally published in the Sarasota Arts Review.

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