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 huge pipe.
Bismarck ponders. His small claw-like index 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 rests, half-twisted, motionless.
Paris, Paris! - But alas, the good man's been dreaming so much with his eyes open that, gradually, he's 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...
Hi povero! Abandoning the unfortunate head, his nose, the nose of Mr. Otto von Bismarck plunges into the burning bowl... Hi! povero! va povero! - right into the glowing bowl of the pipe... Hi! povero! 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 [...]* with your cries of... woman [...]* in history books, you'll be carrying the incinerated nose between your dimwitted eyeballs!...
There you go! Shouldn't have been daydreaming!
- After a translation by Niall McDevitt.
- In 2008, director Patrick Taliercio discovered this new text by Jean Baudry in a local newspaper Le Progrès des Ardennes. It was published on November 25, 1870. Baudry is one of several well-known pseudonyms used by Rimbaud.
- * Some lines are damaged as they were on the folding of the newspaper. You have to read "with cries of", not "with crimes of".
- Hi povero! is an Italian expression and means Poor he! in English.