A Martyr

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

Surrounded by flasks, and by spangled lames,
All matter of sumptuous goods,
Marble sculptures, fine paintings, and perfumed peignoirs
That trail in voluptuous folds,

In a room like a greenhouse, both stuffy and warm,
An atmosphere heavy with death,
Where arrangements of flowers encoffined in glass
Exhale their ultimate breath,

A headless cadaver spills out like a stream
On a pillow adorning the bed,
A flow of red blood, which the linen drinks up
With a thirsty meadow's greed.

Like pale apprehensions born in the dark,
And that enchain the eyes,
The head - the pile of its ebony mane
With precious jewels entwined

On the night table, like a ranunculus
Reposes; and a gaze,
Mindless and vague and as black as the dusk
Escapes from the pallid face.

On the bed the nude torso displays without shame
And most lasciviously,
The secret magnificence, fatal allure,
Of its nature's artistry;

On the leg, a pink stocking adorned with gold clocks
Remains like a souvenir;
The garter, a diamond-blazing eye,
Hurls a glance that is cold and severe.

The singular aspect of this solitude,
Like the portrait hung above
With eyes as enticing as languorous pose,
Reveals an unspeakable love,

Perverse entertainments and culpable joys
Full of devilish intimacies,
Which would make the dark angels swarm with delight
In the folds of the draperies;

And yet, to notice the elegant lines
Of the shoulder lean and lithe,
The haunch a bit pointed, the turn of the waist,
Like a snake aroused to strike,

She is still in her youth! Did her sickness of soul
And her senses gnawed by ennui
Open to her that depraved pack of lusts
And encourage them willingly?

That intractable man whom alive you could not,
Despite so much love, satisfy,
Did he there, on your still and amenable corpse,
His appetite gratify?

Tell me, cadaver! and by your stiff hair
Raising with feverous hand,
Terrible head, did he paste on your teeth
His kisses again and again?

Far away from the world, from the taunts of the mob,
Far from the prying police,
Strange creature, within your mysterious tomb
I bid you to sleep in peace.

Your bridegroom may roam, but the image of you
Stands by him wherever he rests;
As much as you, doubtless, the man will be true,
And faithful even till death.

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