Beatrice

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

Through fields of ash, burnt, without verdure,
where I was complaining one day to Nature,
and slowly sharpened the knife of my thought,
as I wandered aimlessly, against my heart,
I saw descend, at noon, on my brow,
a storm-filled and a sinister cloud,
holding a vicious demonic horde,
resembling cruel, and curious dwarfs.
They gazing at me, considering me, as cool
as passers-by admiring a fool,
I heard them laughing and whispering in synch,
exchanging many a nudge and a wink:

‘ Let’s contemplate this caricature,
this Hamlet’s shadow, echoing his posture,
his indecisive looks, and wild hair.
It’s a shame to see that epicure there,
that pauper, that actor on holiday, that droll
fellow, because he can play a fine role,
trying to interest with his tears
the eagles, the grasshoppers, streams and flowers,
and even proclaiming his public tirades
to us who invented those ancient parades?’

I might (since my pride, high as the mountains,
overtops clouds and the cries of demons)
simply have turned my regal head,
if I’d not seen, to that obscene crowd wed,
a crime that failed to make the sun rock,
the queen of my heart, with her matchless look,
laughing with them at my dark distress,
and now and then yielding a filthy caress.

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