Punishment For Pride

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

When in brave days of old, Theology
Flourished with utmost sap and energy,
A celebrated doctor, it is said,
When he had force-fed some indifferent heads;
Had stirred them in their blackest lethargy
Vaulted himself towards holy ecstasy
By mystic processes he scarcely knew,
A state pure souls alone were welcomed to.
This man who'd tried to grasp beyond his reach,
Flushed with Satanic pride, made bold in speech:
'O little Jesus! I have raised you high!
But if I chose to take the other side,
Thou helpless one, I'd bring thy glory low,
The Christ child an outlandish embryo!'

At once his Reason's sentence had begun.
Shrouded in crepe was this once-blazing sun;
All chaos rolled in this intelligence
Before, a temple, ordered, opulent,
Where he'd held forth in pomp beneath its dome.
Now in him silence, darkness made their home,
As in a cellar vault without a key.
And when he crossed the fields unseeingly,
As unaware of winter as of spring,
Useless and ugly as a womout thing,
He was no better than a common beast,
And was the jeering children's special treat.

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