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Waifs and Strays (Les Effarés)
by Arthur Rimbaud (1870); translated by Jethro Bithell (1912).

Black in the fog and in the snow,
Where the great air-hole windows glow,
                With rounded rumps,

Upon their knees five urchins squat,
Looking down where the baker, hot,
                The thick dough thumps.

They watch his white arm turn the bread,
Ere through an opening flaming red
                The loaf he flings.

They hear the good bread baking, while
The chubby baker with a smile
                An old tune sings.

Breathing the warmth into their soul,
They squat around the red air-hole,
                As a breast warm.

And when, for feasters' midnight bout,
The ready bread is taken out,
                In a cake's form;

And while beneath the blackened beams,
Sings every crust of golden gleams,
                While the cricket brags,

The hole breathes warmth into the night,
And into them life and delight,
                Under their rags,

And the urchins covered with hoar-frost,
On billows of enchantment tossed
                Their little souls,

Glue to the grate their little rosy
Noses, singing through the cosy
                Glowing holes,

But with low voices like a prayer,
Bending down to the light down there,
                Where heaven gleams.

— So eager that they burst their breeches,
And in the winter wind that screeches
                Their linen streams.


PAGE 2 OF 2.

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AUTHOR: Arthur Rimbaud (1870); translated by Jethro Bithell (1912).
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