CHARLES BAUDELAIRE CONSECRATION When by an edict of the sovereign powers the Poet enters this indifferent world, his

mother, spurred to blasphemy by shame, clenches her fists and condols God: Why not have given me a brood of snakes rather than make me rear this laughing-stock? I curse the paltry pleasures of the night on which my womb conceived my punishment! Since I am chosen out of all my sex to bring this scandal to my bed and board, and since I cannot toss the stunted freak, as if he was a love-letter, into fire, at least I can transfer Your hate to him, the instrument of all Your Godly wickedness, and so torment this miserable tree that not one of its blighted buds will grow!' Choking on her enmity, and blind to operations of her eternal plan, she readies in a Gehenna of her own the torture-chamber of a mother's crimes. Yet under an Angel's unseen tutelage the outcast child, enchanted by the sun, will recognize in all he eats and drinks golden ambrosia and nectar of gods. With wind for playmate and with clouds for nurse, he sings the very stations of his cross the Spirit who attends his pilgrimage weeps to see him happy as a bird. Those he longs to love give him wide berth, or, since he offers no resistance, vie to be the first to make him moan with pain, testing their violence, one after the next. Fouling the food that he is meant to taste, they spit in his wine, mix ashes in his bread, whatever he touches they declare unclean and claim they fear to walk where he has been. Meanwhile his wife, in public places, cries: Since he believes me worthy to adore, I'll deal in worship as old idols did and, like them, have myself touched up with gold; why not? I'll glut myself with frankincense and genuflections, gifts of meat and wine-

we'll see if in so reverent a heart my smile usurps the honor of the gods! And when I weary of these impious tricks the time will come for a laying-on of hands: these frail and adamant hands, these harpies' nails will claw their way into his waiting breast; as if a sparrow trembled in my fist I'll tear his beating heart out of his flesh and toss it underfoot disdainfully to make a mouthful for my favorite pet!' To Heaven where he sees a splendid throne the oblivious Poet lifts his pious hands, and blindly flashes out his intellect not noticing the angry mob: Thanks be to God, Who gives us suffering as sacred remedy for all our sins, the best and purest essence which prepares the strong in spirit for divine delights! I know the Poet has a place apart among the holy legions' blessed ranks; You will invite him to the eternal feast of Dominations, Virtues, Thrones and Powers: I know that pain is the one nobility upon which Hell itself cannot encroach; that if I am to weave my mystic crown I must braid into it all time, all space. . . But even the lost gems of ancient Palmyra, metals sunk in the earth, pearls in the sea, set by Your hand, could not approximate the brightness of this perfect diadem! For it will be made of nothing but pure light drawn from the hallowed hearth of primal rays, of which our mortal eyes, for all their might, are only a mournful mirror, a darkened glass.'

ELEVATION Above the lake in the valley and the grove along the hillside, high over the sea and the passing clouds, and even past the sun! To the farthest confines of the starry vault mount, my spirit, wander at your ease and range exultant through transparent space like a rugged swimmer reveling in the waves

with an unutterable male delight. Ascend beyond the sickly atmosphere to a higher plane, and purify yourself by drinking as if it were ambrosia the fire that fills and fuels Emptiness. Free from the futile striving and the cares which dim existence to a realm of mist, happy is he who wings an upward way on mighty pinions to the fields of light; whose thoughts like larks spontaneously rise into the morning sky; whose flight, unchecked, outreaches life and readily comprehends the language of flowers and of all mute things.

THE DANCE OF DEATH
by: Charles Baudelaire

CARRYING bouquet, and handkerchief, and gloves,
Proud of her height as when she lived, she moves With all the careless and high-stepping grace, And the extravagant courtesan's thin face. Was slimmer waist e'er in a ball-room wooed? Her floating robe, in royal amplitude, Falls in deep folds around a dry foot, shod With a bright flower-like shoe that gems the sod. The swarms that hum about her collar-bones As the lascivious streams caress the stones, Conceal from every scornful jest that flies, Her gloomy beauty; and her fathomless eyes Are made of shade and void; with flowery sprays Her skull is wreathed artistically, and sways, Feeble and weak, on her frail vertebrae. O charm of nothing decked in folly! they Who laugh and name you a Caricature, They see not, they whom flesh and blood allure, The nameless grace of every bleached, bare bone, That is most dear to me, tall skeleton!

Come you to trouble with your potent sneer The feast of Life! or are you driven here, To Pleasure's Sabbath, by dead lusts that stir And goad your moving corpse on with a spur? Or do you hope, when sing the violins, And the pale candle-flame lights up our sins, To drive some mocking nightmare far apart, And cool the flame hell lighted in your heart? Fathomless well of fault and foolishness! Eternal alembic of antique distress! Still o'er the curved, white trellis of your sides The sateless, wandering serpent curls and glides. And truth to tell, I fear lest you should find, Among us here, no lover to your mind; Which of these hearts beat for the smile you gave? The charms of horror please none but the brave. Your eyes' black gulf, where awful broodings stir, Brings giddiness; the prudent reveller Sees, while a horror grips him from beneath, The eternal smile of thirty-two white teeth. For he who has not folded in his arms A skeleton, nor fed on graveyard charms, Recks not of furbelow, or paint, or scent, When Horror comes the way that Beauty went. O irresistible, with fleshless face, Say to these dancers in their dazzled race: "Proud lovers with the paint above your bones, Ye shall taste death, musk scented skeletons! Withered Antinoüs, dandies with plump faces, Ye varnished cadavers, and grey Lovelaces, Ye go to lands unknown and void of breath, Drawn by the rumour of the Dance of Death. From Seine's cold quays to Ganges' burning stream, The mortal troupes dance onward in a dream; They do not see, within the opened sky, The Angel's sinister trumpet raised on high. In every clime and under every sun,

Death laughs at ye, mad mortals, as ye run; And oft perfumes herself with myrrh, like ye And mingles with your madness, irony!"

SPLEEN
by: Charles Baudelaire

I'M like some king in whose corrupted veins Flows agèd blood; who rules a land of rains; Who, young in years, is old in all distress; Who flees good counsel to find weariness Among his dogs and playthings, who is stirred Neither by hunting-hound nor hunting-bird; Whose weary face emotion moves no more E'en when his people die before his door. His favourite Jester's most fantastic wile Upon that sick, cruel face can raise no smile; The courtly dames, to whom all kings are good, Can lighten this young skeleton's dull mood No more with shameless toilets. In his gloom Even his lilied bed becomes a tomb. The sage who takes his gold essays in vain To purge away the old corrupted strain, His baths of blood, that in the days of old The Romans used when their hot blood grew cold, Will never warm this dead man's bloodless pains, For green Lethean water fills his veins.

THE REMORSE OF THE DEAD
by: Charles Baudelaire

O SHADOWY Beauty mine, when thou shalt sleep
In the deep heart of a black marble tomb; When thou for mansion and for bower shalt keep Only one rainy cave of hollow gloom; And when the stone upon thy trembling breast, And on thy straight sweet body's supple grace, Crushes thy will and keeps thy heart at rest, And holds those feet from their adventurous race;

Then the deep grave, who shares my reverie, (For the deep grave is aye the poet's friend) During long nights when sleep is far from thee, Shall whisper: "Ah, thou didst not comprehend The dead wept thus, thou woman frail and weak"-And like remorse the worm shall gnaw thy cheek.

THE GHOST
by: Charles Baudelaire

SOFTLY as brown-eyed Angels rove
I will return to thy alcove, And glide upon the night to thee, Treading the shadows silently. And I will give to thee, my own, Kisses as icy as the moon, And the caresses of a snake Cold gliding in the thorny brake. And when returns the livid morn Thou shalt find all my place forlorn And chilly, till the falling night. Others would rule by tenderness Over thy life and youthfulness, But I would conquer thee by fright!

THE SICK MUSE
by: Charles Baudelaire

POOR Muse, alas, what ails thee, then, to-day?
Thy hollow eyes with midnight visions burn, Upon thy brow in alternation play, Folly and Horror, cold and taciturn. Have the green lemure and the goblin red,

Poured on thee love and terror from their urn? Or with despotic hand the nightmare dread Deep plunged thee in some fabulous Minturne? Would that the breast where so deep thoughts arise, Breathed forth a healthful perfume with thy sighs; Would that thy Christian blood ran wave by wave In rhythmic sounds the antique numbers gave, When Phoebus shared his alternating reign With mighty Pan, lord of the ripening grain.

THE TEMPTATION
by: Charles Baudelaire

THE Demon, in my chamber high,
This morning came to visit me, And, thinking he would find some fault, He whispered: "I would know of thee Among the many lovely things That make the magic of her face, Among the beauties, black and rose, That make her body's charm and grace, Which is most fair?" Thou didst reply To the Abhorred, O soul of mine: "No single beauty is the best When she is all one flower divine. When all things charm me I ignore Which one alone brings most delight; She shines before me like the dawn, And she consoles me like the night. The harmony is far too great, That governs all her body fair, For impotence to analyse And say which note is sweetest there. O mystic metamorphosis! My senses into one sense flow--

Her voice makes perfume when she speaks, Her breath is music faint and low!"

The Vampire You who, like the stab of a knife, Entered my plaintive heart; You who, strong as a herd Of demons, came, ardent and adorned, To make your bed and your domain Of my humiliated mind — Infamous bitch to whom I'm bound Like the convict to his chain, Like the stubborn gambler to the game, Like the drunkard to his wine, Like the maggots to the corpse, — Accurst, accurst be you! I begged the swift poniard To gain for me my liberty, I asked perfidious poison To give aid to my cowardice. Alas! both poison and the knife Contemptuously said to me: "You do not deserve to be freed From your accursed slavery, Fool! — if from her domination Our efforts could deliver you, Your kisses would resuscitate The cadaver of your vampire!"

The Voice My cot was next the library, a Babel Where fiction jostled science, myth and fable. Greek dust with Roman ash there met the sight. And I was but a folio in height When two Voices addressed me. "Earth's a cake,"

Said one, "and full of sweetness. I can make Your appetite to its proportions equal Forever and forever without sequel." Another said "Come, rove in dreams, with me, Past knowledge, thought or possibility." That voice sang like the wind along the shore And, though caressing, frightened me the more. I answered "O sweet Voice!" and from that date Could never name my sorrow or my fate. Behind the giant scenery of this life I see strange worlds: with my own self at strife, Ecstatic victim of my second sight, I trail huge snakes, that at my ankles bite. And like an ancient prophet, from that time, I've loved the desert, found the sea sublime; I've wept at festivals and laughed at wakes: And found in sourest wines a sweet that slakes; Falsehoods for facts I love to swallow whole, And often fall, star-gazing, in a hole. But the Voice cheers — "Keep dreaming. It's a rule No sage can dream such beauty as a fool."

The Soul of Wine One night, the soul of wine was singing in the flask: "O man, dear disinherited! to you I sing This song full of light and of brotherhood From my prison of glass with its scarlet wax seals. I know the cost in pain, in sweat, And in burning sunlight on the blazing hillside, Of creating my life, of giving me a soul: I shall not be ungrateful or malevolent, For I feel a boundless joy when I flow Down the throat of a man worn out by his labor; His warm breast is a pleasant tomb Where I'm much happier than in my cold cellar. Do you hear the choruses resounding on Sunday And the hopes that warble in my fluttering breast? With sleeves rolled up, elbows on the table, You will glorify me and be content;

I shall light up the eyes of your enraptured wife, And give back to your son his strength and his color; I shall be for that frail athlete of life The oil that hardens a wrestler's muscles. Vegetal ambrosia, precious grain scattered By the eternal Sower, I shall descend in you So that from our love there will be born poetry, Which will spring up toward God like a rare flower!"

Cupid and the Skull An Old Lamp Base Cupid is seated on the skull Of Humanity; On this throne the impious one With the shameless laugh Is gaily blowing round bubbles That rise in the air As if they would rejoin the globes At the ether's end. The sphere, fragile and luminous, Takes flight rapidly, Bursts and spits out its flimsy soul Like a golden dream. I hear the skull groan and entreat At every bubble: "When is this fierce, ludicrous game To come to an end? Because what your pitiless mouth Scatters in the air, Monstrous murderer — is my brain, My flesh and my blood!"

The Blind Contemplate them, my soul; they are truly frightful! Like mannequins; vaguely ridiculous; Strange and terrible, like somnambulists; Darting, one never knows where, their tenebrous orbs. Their eyes, from which the divine spark has departed, Remain raised to the sky, as if they were looking Into space: one never sees them toward the pavement Dreamily bend their heavy heads. Thus they go across the boundless darkness, That brother of eternal silence. O city! While about us you sing, laugh, and bellow, In love with pleasure to the point of cruelty, See! I drag along also! but, more dazed than they, I say: "What do they seek in Heaven, all those blind?"

Destruction The Demon is always moving about at my side; He floats about me like an impalpable air; I swallow him, I feel him burn my lungs And fill them with an eternal, sinful desire. Sometimes, knowing my deep love for Art, he assumes The form of a most seductive woman, And, with pretexts specious and hypocritical, Accustoms my lips to infamous philtres. He leads me thus, far from the sight of God, Panting and broken with fatigue, into the midst Of the plains of Ennui, endless and deserted, And thrusts before my eyes full of bewilderment, Dirty filthy garments and open, gaping wounds, And all the bloody instruments of Destruction!

The Fountain of Blood It seems to me at times my blood flows out in waves Like a fountain that gushes in rhythmical sobs. I hear it clearly, escaping with long murmurs, But I feel my body in vain to find the wound. Across the city, as in a tournament field, It courses, making islands of the paving stones, Satisfying the thirst of every creature And turning the color of all nature to red. I have often asked insidious wines To lull to sleep for a day my wasting terror; Wine makes the eye sharper, the ear more sensitive! I have sought in love a forgetful sleep; But love is to me only a bed of needles Made to slake the thirst of those cruel prostitutes!

The Metamorphoses of the Vampire The crimson-fruited mouth that I desired — While, like a snake on coals, she twinged and twired, Kneading her breasts against her creaking busk — Let fall those words impregnated with musk, — "My lips are humid: by my learned science, All conscience, in my bed, becomes compliance. My breasts, triumphant, staunch all tears; for me Old men, like little children, laugh with glee. For those who see me naked, I replace Sun, moon, the sky, and all the stars in space. I am so skilled, dear sage, in arts of pleasure, That, when with man my deadly arms I measure, Or to his teeth and kisses yield my bust, Timid yet lustful, fragile, yet robust, On sheets that swoon with passion — you might see Impotent angels damn themselves for me." When of my marrow she had sucked each bone And, languishing, I turned with loving moan To kiss her in return, with overplus, She seemed a swollen wineskin, full of pus. I shut my eyes with horror at the sight,

But when I opened them, in the clear light, I saw, instead of the great swollen doll That, bloated with my lifeblood, used to loll, The debris of a skeleton, assembling With shrill squawks of a weathercock, lie trembling, Or sounds, with which the howling winds commingle, Of an old Inn-sign on a rusty tringle.

Poison Wine knows how to adorn the most sordid hovel With marvelous luxury And make more than one fabulous portal appear In the gold of its red mist Like a sun setting in a cloudy sky. Opium magnifies that which is limitless, Lengthens the unlimited, Makes time deeper, hollows out voluptuousness, And with dark, gloomy pleasures Fills the soul beyond its capacity. All that is not equal to the poison which flows From your eyes, from your green eyes, Lakes where my soul trembles and sees its evil side... My dreams come in multitude To slake their thirst in those bitter gulfs. All that is not equal to the awful wonder Of your biting saliva, Charged with madness, that plunges my remorseless soul Into oblivion And rolls it in a swoon to the shores of death.

The Rebel A furious Angel swoops down like an eagle, Grabs a fistful of the infidel's hair, And shaking him says: "You shall know the rule! (For I am your good angel, do you hear?) You shall!

Know that you must love without making a wry face The pauper, the scoundrel, the hunchback, the dullard, So that you can make for Jesus when he passes A triumphal carpet of your love. Such is love! Before your heart becomes indifferent, Relight your ecstasy before the glory of God; That is the true Voluptuousness with the lasting charms!" The Angel who gives punishment equal to his love Beats the anathema with his giant fists; But the damned one still answers: I shall not!"

Sepulcher If on a dismal, sultry night Some good Christian, through charity, Will bury your vaunted body Behind the ruins of a building At the hour when the chaste stars Close their eyes, heavy with sleep, The spider will make his webs there, And the viper his progeny; You will hear all year long Above your damned head The mournful cries of wolves And of the half-starved witches, The frolics of lustful old men And the plots of vicious robbers.