Once, indulgent lady—only once
  you lay your lustrous arm
on mine (against the darkness of my soul
  the incident stands out);

as if it bad just been coined, a golden moon
  rose ostentatiously,
and night’s magnificence, while Paris slept,
  streamed like another Seine,

Along the housefronts, out of every door
  appeared attentive cats.
following like companionable ghosts
  or frozen as we passed.

And even as our intimacy bloomed
  in that pale radiance,
there came from you—and from that instrument
  of yours, a voice so rich

habitually, exultant as a peal
  of trumpets in the dawn—
there came a sound, a sigh, a plaintive note
  that faltered on your lips

like a sickly, hideous, misproportioned child,
  the family disgrace
long secluded from the world’s regard
  in some dark hideaway.

“Nothing!” it sobbed, that sudden note of yours,
  “nothing on earth is sure,
and all our human masks cannot disguise
  our human selfishness;

Beauty is merely woman’s livelihood,
  a well-rehearsed routine—
the flagging dancer’s discipline: to please
  with automatic smiles;

hearts are not to be depended on,
  they fail—like beauty and love,
until Oblivion gathers up the lot
  for good, all over again!”

That magic moon has never left my mind,
  that silence, that fatigue,
and that dead secret whispered in despair
  at the heart’s confessional.

—Translated by Richard Howard