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The Rhyme Maker
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire

Theme:   Love and Romance (the dark side)

Special Rhyme List:  Copyrighted poetry

Le Vin de l'assassin (original French)

More English translations:
The Murder's Wine (1909 Squire)

S. H. Bass also contributes original poetry to
- S.H. Bass  

Translator's Note:
“English verse by S.H. Bass . . .” is the translator's credit line that accompany seven (7) poems that are posted here at  As I struggled to choose poems for this site (and the anthology, Bottled Poetry: Verses from the Vine), the public domain translations (if any) that I discovered, I found lacking in some respect or another.  Frustrated, I thought “I could do a better job myself” – and so I did! 

There is an established tradition for poets using other's and/or verbatim translations to transmute foreign language poems into English verse. 

- S. H. Bass  

more Charles Baudelaire at

from Les fluers du mal (The Flowers of Evil):

Hymn To Beauty  * A/V
The Soul Of Wine
The Wine Of Lovers * A/V
The Wine Of The Rag-Pickers 
The Wine Of The Solitary*

Prose poems:
Be Drunk* A/V
The Thyrsus:  To Franz Liszt

* multiple Englsh translations

The Wine of the Murderer
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet
English verse by S. H. Bass (b. 1956), American writer/poet

My wife is dead and I am free
To drink all day and never will she,
When I come home without a pence,
Batter me with her screeching nonsense.

Now I am as happy as a king . . .
The skies are clear – a lovely spring!
I remember such heavens enthroned above
In a season gone-by – when we fell in love.

Now I can drink all the wine I can hold –
Enough to fill the tomb where she lies cold
And pale and – How the casks shall flow!
To fill such a berth is no smidgen, you know.

I threw her in a well to drown.
Followed by stones to keep her down –
All the loose rock from around the brim,
Good riddance, too – this was no thoughtless

I reminded her of our wedding vows
Said before God, as His law allows.
A sacred trust, being man and wife
That's not to be broken in this life.

I begged of her a chance to reconcile
To meet me at night, in an alley vile –
And she came – A crazy thing to do!
We all have crazed moments, haven't you?

She was still quite attractive in the pale
Though faded, I still loved her in the shade of night
But shadows are a foreboding, it is often said
So I pushed her in the well and made her dead.

No one understands me, “A simple drunk!”
they'll say
But I'm no simpleton – a mind's not fey
That can reek such havoc, and by design
Make a winding sheet out of wine!

These “they” - these louts who never think
A movement beyond what they eat and drink.
What do they know of love and death –
These “they” who talk and never take a breath?

Love's a black enchantment, a nightmare dream
Though soft in the beginning, as often
nightmares seem.
It's wine turns to poison, it's bed soon retains
Nothing but rattling bones and jingling chains.

Now – here I am, alone and free!
Tonight I'll be drunk, just you wait and see!
I'll lay down on the road, a busy thoroughfare
Without remorse – without a care.

And there, like any dog, I will lie and sleep
Right where the heavy carts, loaded deep
With gravel, manure, or other earthen fare
May crush my skull while I'm unaware.

It can break me in two, mash me flat –
Spill my brains across nature's mat.
I care as little about such a gory end
As I do for God, Devil, or Mortal Sin!

from Bottled Poetry: Verses From The Vine, edited by Stephen H. Bass (Robinsonville, MS: Spilt Wine Publishing Co. 2013).   English translation copyright 2013 Stephen H. Bass.  All rights reserved.  Posted at with the permission of Stephen H. Bass.     


Les Fluers du Mal (The Flowers of Evil)
 by Charles Baudelaire / Richard Howard (trans.)

  French and English.  
  Award-winning translation

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