The Irreparable

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

How can we kill the long, the old Remorse
That lives, writhes, twists itself
And mines us as the worm devours the dead,
The cankerworm the oak?
How can we choke the old, the long Remorse?

And what brew, or what philtre, or what wine
Could drown this enemy,
As deadly as the avid courtesan,
And patient as the ant?
In what brew? in what philtre? in what wine?

Oh, say it if you know, sweet sorceress!
To this my anguished soul,
Like one who's dying, crushed by wounded men,
Stamped, trampled by a horse's hoof.
Oh, say it if you know, sweet sorceress,

To this man whom the wolf already sniffs
And whom the crow surveys,
This broken soldier! Must he then despair
Of having cross and tomb,
This dying man the wolf already sniffs!

Can one light up a black and muddy sky?
Tear through a murkiness
Thicker than pitch, no evening and no dawn,
No stars, no mournful flares?
Can one light up a black and muddy sky?

The Hope that shines at windows of the Inn
Is gone, forever gone!
No moon, no rays to light the way to rest
For martyrs on the road!
Satan has blown the lights out at the Inn!

Enchantress, say it - do you love the damned?
The irremissible,
You know it? Know Remorse, whose poisoned shafts
Find targets in our hearts?
Enchantress, say it - do you love the damned?

The Irreparable with cursed tooth
Gnaws souls, weak monuments,
And often, like the termite, he invades
The structures at their base.
The Irreparable gnaws with sharp tooth!

I've seen, within a tawdry theater
Warmed by a brazen band,
A fairy, from a hellish sky, light up
The miracle of dawn;
Sometimes I've seen within a theater

A Being made of light, and gold, and gauze
Lay the great Satan low;
But in my heart, no home to ecstasy,
Sad playhouse, one awaits
Always in vain, the fine and filmy wings!

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