Two original translations of poems from Charles Baudelaire’s Pièces Condamnées (Condemned Poems)

Le Léthé

Repose upon my heart, cruel oblivious soul,
A tigress idolized, with apathetic airs who knows
My obsession, to touch with quivering limbs for
An eternity the textures of your silken skin;

In your sāṛīs filled with eastern incense
To lay my tender head upon your breasts,
And breathe in, like a faded blossom,
The honeyed sympathy of my vanquished love.

Let me dream! To dream sooner than live!
In a dream dark as death, without dishonor,
With both my lips and tongue, I will caress
Your russet body once more, without regret.

To submerge my tears, to fall motionlessness
Naught equals –theintensity of your bedchamber;
Ever-present, forgetfulness abides in your mouth,
And the waters of Lethe flows from your favors.

To my fortune, now my enchantment,
I will conform like a fated lover;
A submissive sacrifice, sentenced innocently,
Whose ardor fires the agony,

I shall drink deeply, to drown my resentment,
With nepenthes and worthy hemlock
From the charismatic tip of each rounded breast
Which has never bound a human heart.

Alchimie de la Douleur

One initiates you with his desires,
The other one with laments, Nature!
One offers: Entombment!
While the other: Being and brilliance!

Hermès unbeknownst aids me
My inner self, who always torments,
Making me the twin of Midas,
O melancholy alchemist;

Tutored, I refashion gold to black steel
Transform ecstasyto anguish;
In the winding mantle of the clouds

I discover a cherished body,
And on the celestial shores
I build grandiose tombs.

Ron Starbuck has been a contributing writer for Parabola Magazine. And has had poems and essays published in Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature, an interview and poem in The Criterion: An Online International Journal in English, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, ONE from MillerWords (Feb. 2016), and Pirene’s Fountain, Volume 7 Issue 15, from Glass Lyre Press (Oct. 2014), and Levure Littéraire (France – 2017 & 2018).

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