To Francesca, my praises (Baudelaire translation)

To Francesca, my praises

¶

See, I practise a new art
As my angel plays her part
In the desert of my heart.

Now be crowned with garlands gay
Lovely woman fair and fey
Who washes all my sins away.

Let me drink oblivion from
Your sweet mouth as I succumb
To your kisses as they come!

When I trod the path of shame,
When I did things you might blame—
Then, my angel, then you came!

See, my star of shining light,
In the wreck of my soul’s night,
Me, on your altar laying my heart.

Source of every good and sum
Of eternal youth, ah come
Let me sing who now plays dumb.

What was foul, you burnt to bits.
That
was crooked: now it fits.
My will was weak: you strengthened it.

In my hunger, you the inn;
In the dark, my lamp; and in
Your chaste arms, an end to sin.

Add your strength to mine and give
Some sweeter scented additive—
O balm of Gilead, in me live!

Let your chastity confound
My lustful loins and there abound—
Strew your holy water round.

O Lady, be my Golden Bowl!—
My sacred bread, my wine, my soul!—
My fleeting youth, my Beautiful!

*          *          *

Baudelaire’s Franciscae mea laudes
(Freely translated from the Latin).

Dancing Serpent (Baudelaire translation)

“Those eyes like frozen jewels…”

Dancing Serpent

Dear lazybones, how I adore
You in your shining skin!—
It has the shimmer of shot silk
Or frosted hyaline.

Upon your matted mane of hair
As rank as bitter rue
An undulating sea of scents
Wafts billows brown and blue.

And I am drifting like a ship
In quest of distant skies
Dreamily . . .  there oceans roll
And morning breezes rise!

In your blank eyes there’s nothing sweet
Or bitter to behold:
Those eyes like frozen jewels chipped
From iron and pure gold.

*          *          *

Baudelaire: Le Serpent qui danse
http://fleursdumal.org/poem/125

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The Cat (Baudelaire translation)

THE CAT

Just see her padding through my brain,
As if it were her furnished flat:
This frisky, fascinating Cat!
Were she to mew, the low-pitched strain

Of her voice, softer than softest sighs,
Would scarce be audible; but her
Purr’s the thing, her husky purr—
Her purr, that’s where her secret lies!

Her velvet voice, it filters down
Into the darkrooms of my mind;
It thrills me like a poetry line
Or liqueur that I love to drain.

It soothes my sorrows and it lulls
My soul to sleep with ecstasy.
To say the thing it wants to say,
It has no need for words at all.

My heart’s the perfect instrument
For her to play soft music on.
Her rich and vibrant undertone,
Her royal purr’s my ravishment.

The sound you make, mysterious Cat—
O noble Cat so strange of mood!—
Cat in whose breast dark angels brood!—
I’ve never heard a note like that!

2

From her proud pelt all goldenbrown
So sweet a fragrance flows, its balm
Soaks through me as I run my palm
Once up her silken flank, and down.

Familiar spirit at my side!—
Presiding judge and inspiration!—
Queen of delicious domination!—
Are you a goddess in disguise?

Now when my eyes draw back again,
Back from this kitty I adore,
To look within myself and pore
Upon the map of my own brain,

I look and see with wild surprise
Flash back at me from lucent pools
Two blazing lamps, two burning jewels—
The fire opals of her eyes!

The Cat: Baudelaire
http://fleursdumal.org/poem/146

Dying slowly

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Dying Slowly

Come, keep your heart from breaking
And let your lips be dumb
And learn to die a little
Until I cruel come.

Oh try and smile, my darling,
And learn the ancient art
Of plucking out the dagger
I’ve plunged into your heart.

From sparkling windows

From sparkling windows see
The spires of the New
Jerusalem a-shining.
Here’s no iniquity
To vex or trouble you
Or mar your soul’s refining.

From smutted windows see
The towers of Sodom rise,
The mean streets of Gomorrah.
Here’s no divinity
To undefile your eyes
Or save you from tomorrow.

The Gybroch

THE GYBROCH: A sex demon; a real entity of the hellworlds, a type of incubus or succubus who often assumes human form and eventually devours its caged victims after raping them a thousand times.

THE  GYBROCH

As I walked by the Sea of Longing,
The lost sea of Kasmere,
The gybroch flew to my shoulder

And gibbered in my ear.

My blood ran cold when I saw her,
Her long hair lank with brine,
Her wintry eyes like sunless seas,
Her mouth a thin red line.

The moon swooned sickly in heaven
As she bound me to her breast
And turned her wild smoke-pistol eyes
To the Isles of the Unblest.

Her wings spread wide and up we flew
Into the black abyss.
Her grip was hard, her claws were cold,
Her breath a leper’s kiss.

Terror and vertigo! and then—
Down to her wailing castle
On the island of Lalára
In the Lake of Ice Crystal.

She kept me in a hanging cage
Bound with a rubied chain
And brought me strange white breads to eat
And goblets of rare rain.
 

I will not let you go, she growled,
Until you learn to dream
Of me alone, and be my slave
In the City of the Scream!

I shall keep you here forever
In the queendom of my crime,
My puppet and my plaything
Until the end of time!

You will learn to find a pleasure
In the deepest pits of pain
Till there’s nothing but a howling
Hole of darkness in your brain!

She climbed into my raging cage
And scourged me with her hair
And flung me the blood red rose
Of her cruel mouth to wear

And proffered the poisoned apples
Of her breasts with silken sighs
And turned on the pleasure fountains
Between her feathered thighs,

Until the bubble in her burst
Like a brain round a pistol
On the island of Lalára
In the Lake of Ice Crystal.

Now the moon hangs high in heaven—
Or else it hangs in hell!—
Like the moon in a madman’s painting
Seen from a padded cell.

Lower than this

“Lower than this…you cannot fall.”

Lower than this

lower than this
you cannot fall
the writing is
upon the wall

soon time will tell
if you can see
a sadder hell
than this you be

than this you are
than this become
who once were star
and now are scum

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Monkey on Your Back

THE  MONKEY  ON  YOUR  BACK


Who sprinkles pepper in my pot?
Upon my wall who laid this crack?
Who deals my cards, who writes my plot?
How comes this monkey on my back?

— The monkey on your back is you.
The lurker on the landing is
Your nemesis. You know it’s true
You made the killer and his kiss.

Agent provocateur of sin,
You built the mad menagerie:
The bars you clang, the cage you’re in
You forged in your mind factory.

Never, never, never again!
And yet the horror’s back, it’s here.
The maggot festers in the brain,
The monkey gibbers in your ear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

youtube presentation: The Monkey on Your Back

Solitaire

“I clang the bells of madness until morning…”

Solitaire

Lying on red satin sheets, with long black hair,
My lilyscented lover Solitaire!
Her mouth lascivious and her eyes aslant,
My succuba so ripe and ravissante!

And so I abseil down from paradise
Into the bed of Satan, lord of lies,
Where my vampiric sweetheart Solitaire
Lies with vermilion mouth and raven hair.

My demon lover lapped in lilyskin
(Her eyes like smokeholes) gently sucks me in
To the sweet darkness where there is no sin.

I brush her neckbone with my burning lips
I froll her nipples with my fingertips
I stroke her silk and make her velvet wet
I slip my tongue into her cool cachette
I fly her on my broomstick to the moon
I bring her to the City of the Swoon.

And my dark angel drowns me all night long
In pools of pleasure where we’re always young.
I cry for beauty, all I find is burning!
I clang the bells of madness until morning.

And I have fished and caught in the abyss
The Beast that was, and is not, and yet is!

And She has given me ad nauseam
New wounds, new swoons, and made me what I am!

Padding behind me soft, à pas-de-loup,
The devil whispers, “Madam, don’t you know,
God’s a leaf in the wind . . . It’s I who blow!”


Nevermore

 

NEVERMORE

Nevermore, nevermore!—
Old suns and moons of summer or
Childhood’s lost lands, youth’s shining shore.

Endure, endure.
Here lies the cure:
Your mind be clean, your heart be pure!

Learn the lesson, rind and core—
Then ship to your
Calm blue sea and sunkissed shore.

When Pleasure Calls (Baudelaire…a banned poem)

“Your head, your stance, your girlish grace…”

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
http://fleursdumal.org/poem/138
(One of Baudelaire’s banned poems).

De Profundis Clamavi (Baudelaire translation)


“Out  of  the  depths  I  cried…”

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!

 

Shadowlands

SHADOW  LANDS

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.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cage

CAGE

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!

The Vampire (Baudelaire translation)

Masked

The Vampire

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