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.
You’ve heard of the gardens of yearning
Where rivers of shining crystal
Flow, and there in the courts of morning
The dead walk again, immortal.
There the boys all have laughing eyes
And they peep from the leaves of trees
At the angels rustling shy thighs
In their summerland sorceries.
There the angels are all young girls
Pubescent in bud and in bloom
And their eyes are like moths of darkness
And their mouths are like fruits of doom.
How they dance all night under Sirius—
By the moondrugged lakes how they dance!—
Now deathless, divinely delirious,
Round and round in a toxic trance!
And one day they wake up all weeping
In the cold harsh light of the dawn
And the dream has fled and there’s nothing—
No Xanadu, no Avalon!
And then with a shock they discover
In the hideous light of the sun
That out of the mists of Maya
The webs of the world have been spun.
O the sun’s made of cocaine powder
And the moon’s a mad butterfly
And everyone’s guilty of murder—
And only God’s got an alibi!
Now the boys are all bent and broken
And the girls have gum in their eyes
And the moon of magic has fallen
Into the dead sea where it lies.
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.
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
I shed my tears for the shining
rills of Zion into rage
with skulls of myrrh and scorpions
in the sleep of kings in a cage
for I am the sun Tipháreth
and I lick their wounds for a wage
I shed my tears for the aching
stars of the young into stones
with eyes of ancient longing
in the city of sad saloons
for I am the lust of the angels
and I seed their suns and moons
I shed my tears for the endless
aeons of blood into horn
with webs of winter and summer
in the trance of the yet unborn
for I am the snake of Eden
and I give the rose its thorn
I shed my tears for the wounded
wailing for wombs into wings
with requiem bells for ringing
in the courts of the raving kings
for I am the doomed till the trumpets
turn all their rags into rings
I shed my tears for the Always
garden of grief without God
with suns and moons of Carmel
on the feast of the bleeding rod
for I am the Tree of Raptures
and I grow by red seas of blood
I shed my tears for the angels
weary of pleasures and pains
with eyes and tongues of terror
in the song of the singing drains
for I am the damned till your praises
wash out the world and its stains
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!”
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 hole 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.
See Satan’s lovely succubus
Lying on a sofa, indolent,
Parading her voluptuous
Flesh for your bedevilment.
Languidly lascivious, she
Plots your cruel subjugation,
Soliciting your adoration.
All her smiles and wicked ways,
All her blandishments must bring
Fevered nights and wasted days.
No need to fester in her pit:
It’s time to play another part.
Find a stake and sharpen it—
And drive it through her demon heart!
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