I’m like the king of some rainy terrain,
Rich but impotent, young yet over-age,
Detesting the fawning of his teachers,
Tired of his lap dogs and other creatures.
Nothing amuses him, hunting, falconry,
His people expiring before his balcony.
Even the jests of his favourite fool
Won’t smooth the frowns of this cruel recluse.
His petal-strewn bed has become a tomb,
And his handmaidens, who make most princes swoon,
Can’t find outfits scandalous enough
To raise a flicker from his immaculate corpse.
The alchemist who transmutes gold from lead
Fails to draw from him that poisonous element.
And those baths of blood the Romans conceived,
Which even in old age gave tyrants relief…
Can’t even stir the veins of this lethargic flesh
Where the green sludge of Lethe runs instead.
Translated by Peter Jukes from Spleen by Charles Baudelaire