Le Rêve du jaguar

Leconte de L’Isle

translated by John Kinsella

Beneath dark mahogany trees, in the stagnant,
Humid air, saturated with flies, hang flowering
Lianas coiling up from vine stumps, lulling
The splendid and quarrelsome parrot,
The yellow-backed spider and wild monkeys.
Here is where the slayer of oxen and horses,
Sinister and weary, returns with measured
Steps along the mossy bark of old dead trunks.
On he goes, rubbing his muscular arched
Back, and, from the gaping jaw heavy
With thirst, a short, husky breath, a brusque
Twitch disturbs the great lizards, hot with midday
Fires, whose flight flashes across reddish grass.
In a hollow of the dark wood forbidden to the sun,
He sinks, stretched out on some flat rock;
With a large swipe of his tongue he shines his paws;
He blinks his eyes – sleep-dazed, golden;
And, in the illusion of his latent power,
Flicking his tail and with quivering flanks,
He dreams that in the middle of the green arbours,
With one leap, he sinks his liquid claws
Into the flesh of startled and bellowing bulls.