((((Wondering thus:- if perhaps he's a thief,
That fop who with one snooty glance
Enrages a poor uniformed
Hotel flunkey who has just,
Red-faced, brought his car to the main entrance;
- The new arrival in Nice, his eye on the thermometer,
Whether he should wear a mackintosh to keep out the cold;
Horace, alone, with what speed to make flight;
- The hare sauntering through the heather
If finding an old piece of gruyere is out of the question;
- If the bottles of Clicquot are dancing,
The diner whose nose is turning bright red;
- The Yankee, if it's true that ground is more slippery
Than banana peel, when climbing in the Alleghany Range;
- The stranger, if there is not something of the vice-amoral
In the names "vice-president" or "vice-admiral";
- Cerberus, if he should be methodical and, before sprinkling,
Sniff the street-lamp with all three nostrils;
- The stroller on the pavement, cursing his luck,
Whether he can get home without catching cold, his umbrella having lost its webbing;
- Having become sticky and begun to pong, the sole of a shoe
If its twin is jealous of its good fortune;
- The farmer at dawn, putting on his smock,
Which of his cockerels has begun to crow;
- A conscript's shirt, when he breaks wind in the morning,
What purgative he has consumed;
- The baby kicking in the cot,
If in being born he caused his mother's death;
- The flower, if its reviving perfume, smelt
Under a spreading tree, will improve a stream that stinks of asparagus;
- A Jew at church, looking for a corner in the nave,
Why in God's house one must keep on one's headgear;
- The newspaper, which dirties its back page more,
Toothpaste, pills or pawned goods;
- In retrospect, Count Janot,
Whether he looks old or young;
- The wall, what sinful thought is his,
That makes the shutter beat him in the high wind;
- The bow whose hairs were slack before it was played,
How much longer it must make the dud violin sound;
- The thermometer placed somewhere other than the armpit
If the next backside can be far away;
- When wet, the knee
Of the seated Papa if the nappy has been changed;
- The distraught player why the ball, as if it had a mind of its own,
Does not run for him when he aims at the red;
- What it is that satisfies him who smells
A familiar smell as he crosses the threshold of No. 100;
- The bad-tempered trainer, at what winning odds
Does Cocote stand in the Grand Prix;
- If riding like a man will in the end
Make her bow-legged, Joan of Arc;
- The down-and-out, if he has found a cartwheel
When maliciously he touches a hunchback's hump;
- When a bag of sweets dangles from his hand,
The reader, whether the mottoes will double his pleasure;
- The aged astronomer if he will one day absentmindedly
Confuse the Swan with a sign of the Zodiac;
- Old folk, if Saint Martin's blessing can really
Make it possible simultaneously to be and to have been;
- The architect carrying his model, no bigger
Than a toy, whether people will think he's just a kid;
- The theologian, if the the Virgin owed her fame
More to her son than her gossamer threads;*
- The animal-trainer being eaten by a wild beast, if his widow will
Dress correctly, without grey or mauve, in a year's time;
- If his children will be born deaf, he whose hand
Was given the day before to his first cousin;
- The facetious man, if it is better to look up his cobbler's work address
In the street-map or the telephone directory;*
- The man waiting for his milk to heat up
If he will pour it into the cup with or without its skin;
- If he dares risk losing his authority by taking
A purge of ellebore, the ultra-modern dramatist;
- The poet, if one can with "Auteuil"
Rhyme to good effect "comme dans un fauteuil";
- The unknown painter whether from above the stairs
He will as a ghost witness the snobs arguing about his canvases;
- The explorer, far from what he holds dear,
Whether he'll be eaten by cannibals one day;
- If her baby will be bonny, the new mother who
Has yet to hold it in her arms;
- The young author,
for how much longer his writings will appear at his own expense;
- The child, if when he puts on the ogre's big boots
Tom-Thumb will whistle a wish to make them dwarf-sized;
- The old man, reading an obituary,
If he is himself ready for the great journey;
- The President, what points he may be conceding when
Signing or spitting out a speech;
- The workman who knows he has swallowed a nail,
If he will find it tomorrow in his turds;
- The late guest risking a phoney excuse,
If they will bring back the soup tureen and ladle;
- What price if sold at auction, the hangman's noose
Would fetch, the heir of a hanged man;
- The hen, how the egg she just laid
Could possibly be confused with a duck's;
- The ignoramus who sees a boat heading for the open sea
Flying only a scrap of sail,
If she is already caught in a storm;
- Whose children these are, the girl whose bed,
To the best of her knowledge, was never occupied;
- The morphine addict, on what rank Epicurus,
When classifying pleasures, would have placed injection;
- The mountaineer in ecstasy on the side of a peak,
How in the world enough to praise the Maker;
- The bird, when (((((the sun heating even marble)))))
In July one dines in the shade of a tree,
Into which which plate it will, without holding back,
Let drop a fresh little souvenir for examination;
- The astronomer, whether when he points a telescope at the moon
He will see a man walking upside down,
Like a fly slowly crawling across the celing;))))


*Gossamer threads. A gratuitous pun: fils = "son" or "gossamer
threads."
*Telephone directory. Another pun: bottine = "street-map" and Bottin
was the name of the telephone directory.


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1.
To give an overcoat to the new arrival in Nice
(Ready as he is to swear - even on days when
Snowflakes big as coins float in the biting wind -
That in January one can happily go naked in Nice,
Just like Archimedes shouting out a hundred times "Eureka")
Is like giving:- to the novice at sea, an emetic,
When all he can hear is the wind getting up;
- To a member of the audience during a speaker's preambles,
A sleeping-draught; - to one in pursuit of
A fast walker, a fan; - when he gets home, to a sinner
Who has taken a late communion, a bitter walnut;
- A false nose to a Jew, smaller than his own hooter;
- Crazily, before a newly-pressed suit,
An aphrodisiac to the man about to hang; - bellows
To one who is furiously fighting a fire in a soot-filled
Chimney; - to he who is removing from an old and cherished book
A beautiful dried flower, a vice;
- To he who wisely leaves a spider in peace one evening,
Knowing this will bring good fortune, a lucky charm;
- As with kid gloves towards the holy water
She advances her trembling middle finger, to the devout lady, a charm
To prevent her from wasting away; - when the express, carriage after carriage,
Overtakes a slow train, to one who witnesses the contest,
A prediction as to the outcome; - in the evening, to one in his hut
Getting ready for bed in the dark, some hair curlers;
- As, stamping, into his numb fingers
A dyspeptic with bad breath blows, a ball
Of stinking air to his friend;
- An advantage to a steamship challenged by sail;
- To a pedestrian who is being overtaken by a saddled-up horse
Without rider, a double-slap on its back to make it trot;
- To the worker in June who, sewing without a machine
Pricks her finger, a rose to hold;
As he growls before attacking, a stroke
In the wrong direction down the dog's back;
- When he is beset on all sides, to the foul-mouthed emaciate
On the verge of ruin, a shaped block for enlarging hats;
- To a recluse, when outside the flags are slapping hard,
Many an undulating chromatic number on the flute;
- To one overwhelmed in contemplation of a storm,
The information that sound travels slower than light;
- To a whistler nearing the end of a song,
A slap on the back for each line of the refrain;
- A rest to a cock who, autumn going by apace, stamps frustratedly
As dawn is delayed; - to the Wandering Jew, a desk-job.

2.
Fame has a horror of the new.

3.
Ignoramuses believe that the earth is flat.





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