The Ragman's Wine

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

Often, beneath a street lamp's reddish light,
Where wind torments the glass and flame by night,
Where mankind swarms in stormy turbulence
Within a suburb's muddy labyrinth,

One comes upon a shaking ragman, who
Staggers against the walls, as poets do,
And disregardful of policemen's spies,
Pours from his heart some glorious enterprise.

Swearing his oaths, he dictates laws he's made
To vanquish evil, bring the victims aid,
And there beneath the sky, a canopy,
Grows drunk upon his own sublimity.

Yes, and these men harassed by household strife,
Tortured by age, bruised by the blows of life,
Under their heaps of rubbish burdened down,
The dregs, the vomit of this teeming town,

Appear again, redolent of the jar,
With their companions, bleached and battle-scarred,
Moustaches like the rags of bannerets.
Arches of triumph rise before their steps,

A solemn magic! flags and flowers too!
And in this orgy, dazzling to the view,
Of cheers, of bugles, drums, the sun above,
They glorify a people drunk with love!

And so it is, like Pactolus of old,
For fickle Humankind, wine rolls with gold;
By human throat wine finds a voice to sing,
And reigns by all its gifts, a proper king.

To drown the spite and dull the lethargy
Of damned old men who die in secrecy,
Remorseful God gave sleep to every one;
Man added wine, true scion of the Sun!

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'The Ragman's Wine' by Charles Baudelaire

comments powered by Disqus