Lethe (Baudelaire translation)


Lie on my breast, you lazy beast, and lounge
There like a lovely tigress. Settle there,
You cold, cruel monster, and let me plunge
My restless fingers in your fleece of hair!
Let me descend into the scented vale
Of your long skirts, and breathe the essence of
You there: from that spent flower, let me inhale
The bittersweet remains of my dead love.
I long to sleep—to sleep and not to be!
To sink into the dream of death, and there
Scatter my carefree kisses recklessly
On your bronze-tinted flesh so young and fair.
My weeping fits, my stifled sobs and sighs,
All cease and fall to nothing in the abyss
Of your bed. In your mouth, forgetfulness
Lies, and Lethe’s lulling waters in your kiss.
I yield to fate, and take a pleasure in it.
Henceforth my doom will be my sweet delight.
A willing martyr, I shall fan this minute
These flames of lust to add to my own plight.
And I shall suck—to soothe my soul’s unrest—
Nepenthe and hemlock, bitter-tanged and tart,
From the pert rosebuds of those pointed breasts
Behind which never beat a human heart.


Dead Lovers (Gerard de Nerval translation)



Dead lovers

Where are our lovers now?
In graveyards low they lie.
I guess they’re happy now
In lands of lullaby.
They’re with the angels now
Up in the sky so blue—
They sing the praises of
God’s holy Mother too.
O bride in shining white,
Young woman once in flower,
You lovers lost in night—
The doombell tolled your hour.
Immortal youth once shone
All flashing in your eyes.
Those flames from earth are gone—
Let them light up the skies.

Beautiful Corpse (Baudelaire translation)

Beautiful corpse

One midnight, appalling and drear,
You will lie under your headstone:
Your beautiful corpse, my dear,
In its house of gravel and bone!

When the chaste stars languish and droop
Their eyes at the coming of dawn,
There the spider will weave his web,
There the viper will breed her spawn.

There night after night you will hear,
Like the hounds of hell in your ear,
The wolf and his harrowing howl:

There the raddled harlot will lurk
And the dirty old man will jerk
And the plotter of crimes will prowl.


To the Precious and Beautiful (Baudelaire translation)

To the precious and beautiful
Whose loveliness illumines me,
To my Idol, to my Angel
All praise in immortality!
She impregnates the air around
Like the wild salt tang of the sea
And in my soul she trickles down
The attar of eternity.
Sachet forever fresh and strong
Scenting the air of a loved room,
Forgotten censer burning long
Through the night in the sacred gloom.
How can I ever truly tell
What undefiled you are to me,
My grain of musk invisible,
My essence of eternity!
To the precious and beautiful—
My life, my joy, my sanity,
To my Idol, to my Angel
All praise in immortality!

Je t’adore (Baudelaire translation)

I love you as I love the sky at night,
You brooding soul who never says a word.
Because you’re cold, denying me delight,
I love you all the more, my mockingbird!
You put a gulf between me and the blue
Heavens beyond. That’s why I reach for you!
I move in for the kill. I lust for your flesh,
As coffinworms over corpses swarm.
You gorgeous beast, I want you all the more
You crack your whip and treat me like a worm!

Wait for me, Moth

Wait for me, Moth

And why should I tell you the reason
You slipped and fell into the well?
You were sniffing the rim for poison,
You were hunting for heaven in hell.
I look out from the eyes of others
I lie hidden behind their smiles
And I roar in the wind’s wild weathers
Where the glum seas glug up their whales.
I come when you do not call me
At a time of my own choosing
When the fruit hangs ripe on the tree
And the juice from the fruit is oozing.
Wait for me, Moth, oh wait until I come—
And suck you back again into my flame!





I take refuge
in the joy of morning
from the night and its sadness:
from the savage
night and its yearning
under moons of madness.

I take refuge
in the peace of morning
from the night and its desires:
from the savage
lust of the burning
flesh and its fires.


Under swooning moons of magic


Leave me, Léthyn, let me go—
Give me wings to fly again!

This is all you need to know:

Passion always ends in pain.

In the golden summer season
When the fruit on every tree

Offered its own secret poison

You, my Léthyn, came to me.

In the Gardens of Delight
Where the pleasure river ran,

There you taught me that the night

Was made for woman and for man.

Under swooning moons of magic,
There you wrapped my raven heart

In your smiles, my dark angelic

Other Self, my counterpart.

There you taught me love must die,
There I learnt the bitter truth

That love was built upon a lie

Of beauty, and the dreams of youth.

One day you’ll bear my ancient burden
And be the broken reed I am,

And I shall sleep in the Always Garden

Like a leaf on the Tree of Time.

The Goat

Dreaming in molten meadows
when the sun honks his horn
and all the flowerwine streams
flash their diamonds and drain

the sunlight, I saw sleeping
between the sun and me
on a hill of hyacinths
a lush, a slim ladyé.

I thought I heard her breathing,
so I crept near to steal
a look at her naked breast
and finely chiseled heel.

And there I found her weeping—
ah yes, I wondered why!—

a brutish goat stood by her
gazing at her glazed eye.

He sidled to her strangely
with a sly gait and slow:
she wept so much she laughed at
herself, for weeping so.

The Waterfall


The Waterfall

No ordinary water
fall was this. In leaping
torrents we were taken
to the world’s end weeping.

Something secret whispered
its warning in your ear:
Don’t fall again
! renounce
falling’s ecstatic pleasure

Falling, falling, falling
like windtossed leaf, like fish
in these wild waters churning
were anybody’s wish!

Abyss of boiling waters,
the bliss of it below,
the gurge, the surge, the urge
the love of all things low!

And here a boat came bobbing,
bobbing the other way—
away from the dark falls
and the dangerous day.

And in the boat sat one
and out he stretched his hand
to you in those wild waters—
an angel from beyond!

Out of the black abyss
of waters lifted he
your body and sick soul
and fetched you to safety

and all the others went
over the roaring falls
leaping in ecstasy
down the watery walls

down to the rocks below
down to the sobbing stones
down to the bloodsplashed spikes
down to the splintered bones.


The Silent Scream


I am sick of love’s cruel desires
the sighs and the tears and the tinglings
and the lust for forbidden fires
in the city of secret longings

I am sick of the drug of sin
the song and the dance and the dream
and the search for paradise in
the city of the silent scream

I am sick of good and evil
and the days and nights of terror
and the hideous face of the devil
looking back at me in my mirror

Saroth the Demon

Saroth  the  Demon

Here’s the nymphomaniac
Saroth the Demon on my back
Riding me with lustcrazed eyes
And crushing anaconda thighs!

And when I tell the bitch to stop
She licks her whip, she flicks her crop
And flogs me freaky until I
Fall at her feral feet and my

Homunculus revives and springs
Up, up again on ragged wings!—
And roars around her until She
Melts in the furnace that is Me.

— Saroth, Saroth, tell me why
We burn in hell,  both you and I.
And Saroth laughs and Saroth says:
Because there
is no other place!

Take this truth and hide it well:
There is no Heaven, only Hell!
Down, down, however low you go—
New hells, new wells, a newer low!


Prajapati’s Teachings (from the Sanskrit)


Prajapati, lord of creation, had three
Different types of devotees: gods, men, demons.

Now the gods approached Prajapati first
For wisdom, saying ‘Sir, give us something
Precious to remember: truth in a word.’
Prajapati offered one syllable.
‘Da!’ he said. ‘Have you understood?’ he said.
‘We have understood,’ they said. ‘You said, Control!
Da for Damyata: Control, rein yourself in!’
‘Good,’ Prajapati said. ‘You have understood.’

The men of the world sought Prajapati next
For wisdom, saying ‘Sir, give us something
Precious to remember: truth in a word.’
Prajapati offered one syllable.
‘Da!’ he said. ‘Have you understood?’ he said.
‘We have understood,’ they said. ‘You said, Give!
‘Da for Datta: Give freely, be generous!’
‘Good,’ Prajapati said. ‘You have understood.’

The demons sought out Prajapati next
For wisdom, saying ‘Sir, give us something
Precious to remember: truth in a word.’
Prajapati offered one syllable.
‘Da!’ he said, ‘Have you understood?’ he said.
‘We have understood,’ they said. ‘You said, Mercy!
Da for Dayadhvam: Have mercy, forgive!’
‘Good,’ Prajapati said. ‘You have understood.’

These words can still be heard when thunder roars:
Da! Da! Da! Damyata! Datta! Dayadhvam!

*            *            *            *            *            *            *

— Translated from the Sanskrit of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad  (c. 1000  BCE)
by Lasha Darkmoon in collaboration with ‘MW’. Published in Acumen Magazine,
May 2008, under the composite pen name ‘Manna Domini’.

Lesbian lovers on a balcony (Verlaine translation)


Lesbian lovers on a balcony… “swooning under a summer evening moon.”

Lesbian Lovers on a balcony

They looked on as the swallows clipped the air:
One pale and raven-tressed, the other blonde.
Light cloudy gowns clung to their bodies fair
And round their slender limbs like serpents wound.

Lovely they were like languid asphodels
Swooning under a summer evening moon,
Savouring such joy as in a sad heart dwells
When lover turns to lover in night gloom.

So pleased to love each other instead of man,
These dreamy girls upon the balcony
Caress each other’s cool and clammy skin.

Behind them in the musky room there stands,
In pride of place, marked out for ecstasy,
The BED . . . the scented bed of sweetest sin!


(Verlaine imitation/translation)





The Green Fields of Longing

In the gardens of paradise 
watered by crystalline
streams, they stroll with
their long-lashed loves
eating the bittersweet
apples of endless desire.

Here they lie listening to music
under the boughs of the
peach trees, the pea-
cock’s tail their fan.
Here where the spiced winds blow
they enjoy the languors of love

in the kissing gardens for ever.
There is food and wine here
too, and there is                                                  
laughter under
the sun, and the sea lies
sleeping, sleeping. What has led them

here, to the green fields of longing
and the bluewater bay?
Prayer and study.
And sacrifice.
And death, a noble death
in battle. Praise them, honour them!