Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Stupidity, delusion, stinginess and vice
Occupy our thoughts and overtax our force;
We use ourselves to feed our lovable remorse
Like beggars use their skin as pasturage for lice.

Our sins are obstinate;repentances are vain;
Yet with forgiveness, at a great expense, bestowed,
Lighthearted once again we walk the filthy road;
Our vile tears, we believe, have washed away the stain.

In a cocoon of evil, the Satan Trismegist
Provides an easeful rest for the enchanted self,
And all the precious struts and fibers of resolve
Are vaporized before that cunning alchemist.

However we may move, the Devil tugs the string!
We find alluring charm in loathsome bagatelle,
And each day we descend one steep step nearer Hell;
We walk, unhorrified, through smoke and smut that stink.

Like some poor debauchee who kisses, licks, and chews
The martyrized, old breast of any ancient whore,
In passing we indulge ourselves in furtive sport
And squeeze it like a shriveled orange for its juice.

Packed in and multiplying like a million worms,
A mob of drunken Demons riots in our brains,
And, even as we breathe, a silent Death profanes
Our lungs with tiny streams of undetected germs.

If rape and deadly poison, daggers and the flame
Have not embroidered some diverting scenery
Upon the boring canvas of our destiny,
The slackness of our souls, alas! must be to blame!

And yet-amidst the jackal, panther and bitch-hound,
The ape, the scorpion, the vulture and the serpent,
Monsters screaming, squirming, yelping, growling, rampant--
In our menagerie of vices can be found

One beast more hideous, more evil, more unclean!
Though he makes no great cry, no great display of trouble,
He'd eagerly demolish everything to rubble,
Gulp down the entire world in one convulsive yawn;

It is Ennui--within his eye false teardrops gather,
While dreams of scaffolds crowd his hookah's smoke and smell.
Reader, you know this fastidious monster well,
--Hypocrite,reader,--My duplicate,--My brother!

Charles Baudelaire, translated by William H. Crosby


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