Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet
translated by W. J. Robertson
Be thou from Hell upspring or Heaven descended,
Beauty! thy look demoniac and divine
Pours good and evil things confusedly blended,
And therefore art thou likened unto wine.
Thine eye with dawn is filled, with twilight dwindles,
Like winds of night thou sprinklest perfumes mild;
Thy kiss, that is a spell, the child's heart kindles,
Thy mouth, a chalice, makes the man a child.
Fallen from the stars or risen from gulfs of error,
Fate dogs thy glamored garments like a slave;
With wanton hands thou scatterest joy and terror,
And rulest over all, cold as the grave.
Thou tramplest on the dead, scornful and cruel,
Horror coils like an amulet round thine arms,
Crime on thy superb bosom is a jewel
That dances amorously among its charms.
The dazzled moth that flies to thee, the candle,
Shrivels and burns, blessing thy fatal flame;
The lover that dies fawning o'er thy sandal
Fondles his tomb and breathes the adored name.
What if from Heaven or Hell thou com'st, immortal
Beauty? O sphinx-like monster, since alone
Thine eye, thy smile, thy hand opens the portal
Of the Infinite I love and have not known.
What if from God or Satan be the evangel?
Thou my sole Queen! Witch of the velvet eyes!
Since with thy fragrance, rhythm and light, O Angel!
In a less hideous world time swiftlier flies.
from Baudelaire: His Prose and Poetry (1919)
courtesy of vintagewinepoems.com