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


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