When Pleasure Calls
Your head, your stance, your girlish grace
Are like a landscape in July,
And laughter flutters round your face
Like a cool breeze in a clear sky.
The gloomy souls you graze in passing
Are ravished by your radiant charms:
The health that from your skin comes leaping,
Your shining shoulders and your arms.
Many a time in languid gardens
To which I dragged my vertigo,
I felt a strange, ecstatic burden:
Sweet sunlight tore my heart in two.
And then came Spring with greening leaf
And made me go all sick and sour,
And this is how I sought relief—
I took it out on some poor flower!
And this is something I now wish:
One night, one night when pleasure calls,
Toward the heaven of your flesh
To steal, and like a craven crawl.
To lacerate your lovely flesh,
Punish your breast and pardon it,
And in your harrowed haunches gash
A gaping wound, a gloating slit—
And then at last, ah sweet delight!
Into that mouth made for me new—
All beautiful and sparkling bright—
To spurt my venom into you!
Baudelaire: À Celle Qui Est Trop Gaie
(One of Baudelaire’s banned poems).
Sole being I love!—pity, oh pity me
Here in this pit of darkness where I lie,
Here under leaden skies in lethargy
Where terror lurks and blasphemy stalks by.
Six months the frigid sun floats overhead,
Six months the world lies wrapped in blackest night.
The frozen poles are not so cold and dead—
No birds, no streams, no greening leaves, no light.
Horror, horror! There’s none to equal this:
The grim chaotic glooms of hideous night,
The cutting coldness of the cruel sun.
Oh, how I envy simple beasts their plight!—
Dumb creatures sunk in sleep’s paralysis.
How time creeps by . . . how slow my reel is run!
When in the shadowlands we met in shame,
In my shy ear you whispered one strange word,
And from the haunted woods far off there came
The saddest, wildest song you ever heard.
I can’t remember what you whispered then
Although you’ve whispered it ten thousand times
To many others under alien suns
In other worlds amid the dragon tombs;
There where the pterodactyl slants its wings
Across a lurid moon of lizard green
And every day a new tsunami brings
You back from worlds that never should have been.
There’s nothing to remember or forget.
I could have loved you, but we never met.
Free was that bird to fly
away at length at large;
so tell me, tell me why
she flies back to her cage?
You too, my love, set free
long cruel from your chains—
why, tell me why you creep
back to your ancient sins?
The fight, I let you win it
and doused your deadly fires.
For what? Dog to its vomit
back, swine back to its mire?
No, no, let it not be—
Not for this I set you free!
You, deadlier than a dagger thrust,
Who into my sick heart have come!
You, sleek and lethal in your lust,
Who like a thousand demons swarm
Into my mind, where you have found
Your bed of sin and your domain—
Bitch! vile bitch! to you I’m bound
As is the convict to his chain!
As is the gambler to his dice,
As is the drunkard to his bowl,
As is the carcase to its lice—
Incarnate bitch! bitch without soul!
I begged the knife to put an end
To all my pain…poison to pour
Its giddy death into my veins,
Yielding the peace I so longed for!
Alas! these two, they sneered at me,
Both poison and the knife so rude:
“You have no right to be set free
From your accursèd servitude!
Fool! if somehow we could contrive
To free you from your wretched pain,
Your kisses would restore to life
Your Vampire’s rotting corpse again!”
— Translated by Lasha Darkmoon
When Nature long ago in lusty guise
Produced all kinds of forms—monstrous, obscene—
I might have loved a girl of giant size.
I could have been her kitten, she my queen!
Oh, to have seen her shoot up tall and turn
Mature and muscular with exercise!—
The soupy mists that in such monsters churn,
Would that I’d seen them swirling in her eyes!
To roam her craggy contours and to climb
Her legs titanic to her knees sublime!—
And then, when summer’s swoon-inducing heats
Have made her sprawl across the countryside,
To crouch within the shadow of her teats,
Like a small village on a mountainside!
Baudelaire: Le Géante
Long to sail
sea of dreams all day,
summer the winds sighing;
honey sun in heaven
larks on fire flying.
Long to find
green the fields of longing;
time where everlasting
rivers flow and flowers
live on without dying.
Long to rest
eyes of her in pools,
moon their darkness dazzling;
forgiveness in her smile
and an end to crying.