A poem by Charles Baudelaire

for J.G.F.

I'll strike you without rage or hate
The way a butcher strikes his block,
The way that Moses smote the rock!
So that your eyes may irrigate

My dry Sahara, I'll allow
The tears to flow of your distress.
Desire, that hope embellishes,
Will swim along the overflow

As ships set out for voyaging,
And like a drum that beats the charge
In my infatuated heart
The echoes of your sobs will ring!

But am I not a false accord
Within the holy symphony,
Thanks to voracious Irony
Who gnaws on me and shakes me hard?

She's in my voice, in all I do!
Her poison flows in all my veins!
I am the looking-glass of pain
Where she regards herself, the shrew!

I am the wound, and rapier!
I am the cheek, I am the slap!
I am the limbs, I am the rack,
The prisoner, the torturer!

I am my own blood's epicure
- One of those great abandoned men
Who are eternally condemned
To laugh, but who can smile no more!

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