I’m like the king of some rainy terrain,
Rich but impotent, young yet over-aged,
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 brow of this cruel recluse.
His petal-strewn bed has become a tomb,
Even his handmaidens, trained to make princes swoon,
Can’t disport themselves scandalously enough
To raise a flicker from his immaculate corpse.
The alchemist who transmutes gold from lead
Couldn’t precipitate out his poisonous element.
And those baths of blood the Romans conceived
To give decrepit tyrants some relief…
Can’t stir the veins of this lethargic flesh
In which the green sludge of Lethe runs instead.
Translated by Peter Jukes from Spleen by Charles Baudelaire