I Love The Thought Of Ancient, Naked Days

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

I love the thought of ancient, naked days
When Phoebus gilded statues with his rays.
Then women, men in their agility
Played without guile, without anxiety,
And, while the sky stroked lovingly their skin,
They tuned to health their excellent machine.
Cybele, in offering her bounty there,
Found mortals not a heavy weight to bear,
But, she-wolf full of common tenderness,
From her brown nipples fed the universe.
Man had the right, robust and flourishing,
Of pride in beauties who proclaimed him king;
Pure fruit unsullied, lovely to the sight,
Whose smooth, firm flesh went asking for the bite!

Today, the Poet, when he would conceive
These native grandeurs, where can now be seen
Women and men in all their nakedness,
Feels in his soul a chill of hopelessness
Before this terrible and bleak tableau.
Monstrosities that cry out to be clothed!
Bodies grotesque and only fit for masques!
Poor twisted trunks, scrawny or gone to flab,
Whose god, implacable Utility,
In brazen wraps, swaddles his progeny!
And pale as tapers, all you women too
Corruption gnaws and nourishes, and you
O virgins, heir to all matemal vice
And all the squalor of the fecund life!

It's true, we have in our corrupted states
Beauties unknown to ancient people's tastes:
Visages gnawed by sores of syphilis,
And one might say, beauties of listlessness;
But these inventions of our tardy muse
Never avert the sickly modem crew
From rendering to youth their deepest bow,
To holy youth, to smooth, untroubled brow,
To limpid eye, to air of innocence,
Who pours out on us all, indifferent
As flowers, birds, the blue of sky or sea,
His perfumes, songs, his sweet vitality!

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