When I must come to you, O my God, I pray
It be some dusty-roaded holiday,
And even as in my travels here below
I beg to choose by what road I shall go
To Paradise, where the clear stars shine by day.
I’ll take my walking stick and go my way
And to my friends the donkeys I shall say,
“I am Frances Jammes, and I’m going to Paradise,
For there is no hell in the land of the loving God.”
And I’ll say to them: “Come sweet friends of the blue skies,
Poor creatures who with a flap of the ears or a nod
Of the head shake off the buffets, the bees, the flies . . . ”
Let me come with these donkeys, Lord, into your land,These beasts who bow their heads so gently, and stand
With their small feet joined together in a fashion
Utterly gentle, asking your compassion.
I shall arrive, followed by their thousands of ears,
Followed by those with baskets at their flanks,
By those who lug the carts of mountebacks
Or loads of feather dusters and kitchen wares,
By those with humps of battered water cans,
By bottle-shaped she-asses who halt and stumble,
By those tricked out in little pantaloons
To cover their wet, blue galls where flies assemble
In whirling swarms, making a drunken hum.
Dear God, let me be with these donkeys that I come
And let it be that angels lead us in peace
To leafy streams where cherries tremble in air
Sleek as the laughing flesh of girls; and there
In that haven of souls let it be that, leaning above
Your divine waters, I shall resemble these donkeys,
Whose humble and sweet poverty will appear
Clear in the clearness of your eternal love.
-- Frances Jammes, trans. Richard Wilbur