The Warner

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

Every man worth the name
has a yellow snake in his soul,
seated as on a throne, saying
if he cries: ‘I want to!’: ‘No!’


Lock eyes with the fixed gaze
of Nixies or Satyresses, says
the Tooth: ‘Think of your duty!’


Make children, or plant trees,
polish verses, or marble frieze,
the Tooth says: ‘Tonight, where will you be?’


Whatever he likes to consider
there’s never a moment passing
a man can’t hear the warning
of that insufferable Viper.

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