Bismarck’s Dream

 

(A FANTASY)

 

It’s evening. Inside his tent, silent and dreamy, Bismarck ponders, a finger on the map of France. A blue wisp of smoke billows from his larger-than-life pipe. Bismarck ponders. His small claw-like finger strolls – along the vellum – from the Rhine to the Moselle, from the Moselle to the Seine. Imperceptibly, at Strasbourg, his nail makes a scratch on the paper; he carries on regardless. At Saarbrucken, at Wissembourg, at Woerth, at Sedan, the small claw-like index finger quivers with excitement; it caresses Nancy, tickles Bitche and Phalsbourg, scratches Metz, plots a route along the borders of the little broken lines, and stops… Triumphantly, Bismarck covers Alsace and Lorraine with his index. Ah! What frenzies of avarice inside that yellow skull! And what perfumed clouds gushing from his pipe!

———-

Bismarck ponders. Ooh! A fat black dot seems to halt his fidgeting index. It is Paris. Then, the nasty little nail, it scratches, it scratches along the paper, angrily, and finally it stops. There the finger points, half-twisted, motionless. Paris, Paris! But alas, the good man’s been dreaming so much with open eyes that, gradually, he is overcome by drowsiness. His brow tilts down towards the paper. Mechanically, his pipe falls from his lips, the bowl thudding onto the ugly black dot. Poor sod! Abandoning his unfortunate head, the nose, the nose of Mr. Otto von Bismarck, plunges into the burning bowl – poor bastard! – right into the glowing bowl of the pipe. Poor sod! He had his finger on Paris… but now it’s over, the dream of glory!

———-

It was so delicate, so spiritual, so blessed, the nose of this venerable high-ranking diplomat. Hide it, hide the nose! Ah yes, my dear sir, when you return to the palace to divide up the royal sauerkraut – the proceeds of your crimes – with your women in history books, you’ll be sporting the incinerated nose between your dimwitted eyeballs.

Oh well. Shouldn’t have been daydreaming!

 

LE REVE DE BISMARCK (Fantaisie) was published on Nov 25 1870 in a local newspaper, Le Progres des Ardennes, under the known Rimbaud pseudonym Jean Baudry. (Baudry is Ribaud backwards; ribaud is an old French word for ‘punk’.)

 

Translation: Niall McDevitt
Graphic: Nick Victor

 

Le rêve de Bismarck

(Fantaisie)
C’est le soir. Sous sa tente, pleine de silence et de rêve, Bismarck, un doigt sur la carte de France, médite ; de son immense pipe s’échappe un filet bleu.
Bismarck médite. Son petit index crochu chemine, sur le vélin, du Rhin à la Moselle, de la Moselle à la Seine ; de l’ongle, il a rayé imperceptiblement le papier autour de Strasbourg : il passe outre.
A Sarrebruck, à Wissembourg, à Woerth, à Sedan, il tressaille, le petit doigt crochu : il caresse Nancy, égratigne Bitche et Phalsbourg, raie Metz, trace sur les frontières de petites lignes brisées, — et s’arrête…
Triomphant, Bismarck a couvert de son index l’Alsace et la Lorraine ! — Oh ! sous son crâne jaune, quels délires d’avare ! Quels délicieux nuages de fumée répand sa pipe bienheureuse !…
Bismarck médite. Tiens ! un gros point noir semble arrêter l’index frétillant. C’est Paris.
Donc, le petit ongle mauvais, de rayer, de rayer le papier, de ci, de là, avec rage, — enfin, de s’arrêter… Le doigt reste là, moitié plié, immobile.
Paris ! Paris ! — Puis, le bonhomme a tant rêvé l’œil ouvert, que, doucement, la somnolence s’empare de lui : son front se penche vers le papier ; machinalement, le fourneau de sa pipe, échappée à ses lèvres, s’abat sur le vilain point noir…
Hi ! povero ! en abandonnant sa pauvre tête, son nez, le nez de M. Otto de Bismarck, s’est plongé dans le fourneau ardent… Hi ! povero ! va povero ! dans le fourneau incandescent de la pipe…, Hi ! povero ! Son index était sur Paris !… Fini, le rêve glorieux !
Il était si fin, si spirituel, si heureux, ce nez de vieux premier diplomate ! — Cachez, cachez ce nez !…
Eh bien ! mon cher, quand, pour partager la choucroute royale, vous rentrerez au palais
(lignes manquantes)
Voilà ! fallait pas rêvasser !
Jean Baudry


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