Sunday, April 26, 2020

BORIS PASTERNAK
"Mephistopheles"

Every Sunday they left a circus of dust behind them,
as they poured out on the turnpike in stately, overcowded
                                                                                           carriages,
and the showers found nobody at home,
and trampled through the bedroom windows.

It was a custom at these staid Sunday dinners
to serve courses of rain instead of roast-beef;
on the baroque sideboard, by the Sunday silver,
the wind cut corners like a boy on a new bicycle.

Upstairs, the curtain-rods whirled, untouched;
the curtains rose like a salvo to the ceiling.
Outside the burghers kept losing themselves,
they showed up chewing straws by cow-ponds.

Later, when the long cortege of carriages
approached the city wall,
the horses shied
from the shadow of the Gothic gallows.

The devil in blood-red stockings with rose rosettes
danced along the sunset-watered road—
he was as red
as a boiling lobster.

One thought a snort of indignation
had ripped the lid of Heaven
from the skyline’s low vegetation;
the devil’s ribbons fluttered and danced.

The carriages swam through his eyes like road-signs;
he scarcely lifted a finger in greeting.
He rolled on his heels, he rumbled with laughter,
he sidled off hugging Faust, his pupil.

If you enjoyed this poem, why not read …



The Paris Review - Issue 26 (Fall 1961)

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