I paid the fisherman as he passed by,
took in my hand this vile monstrosity,
a creature murky as its watery haunt,
an outsize weevil, or a hydra’s runt;
shapeless as shade, and nameless as the Lord.
A maw that gaped, and a black stump that bored
out through the scales… It snapped at me. God grants
a place in his colossal ordinance
to these revolting spooks, a world obscured.
It snapped at me… We came to blows, we sparred,
my fingers fearful of the teeth’s attack:
the vendor slipped away behind a rock,
vanishing, as it bit me. ‘Go!’ I cried:
‘Bless you, damned creature!’ – threw it on the tide,
into the depths, to tell the great curmudgeon,
the sun’s baptismal font, the boundless ocean:
Man does to Beast a good for an evil action.
(translated from Victor Hugo’s ‘Je payai le pêcheur’)