Thursday, August 13, 2009

Feeling poetic today

I was suddenly caught in a Baudelairean mood, and read a couple of poems from the man above (this post, not the way above). So I thought I would share a poem with my readership (maybe I'll make this a regular thing here--if I am so compelled). What I love about Baudelaire is his use of grotesque imagery (I lament that something is lost in the English translations I read; perhaps I'll pick up French again one day). I also love that each of his poems reflects part of the troubled spirit contained within him. In his life, he had very troubled relationships with the people around him. He never married. His life's work was condemned, and the famous six poems were forbidden to appear in print until nearly a hundred years after his death. If you do not have a copy of The Flowers of Evil in your book collection--well, I don't even know what to say (sorry, I'm biased...). The last two stanzas are particularly poignant, at least to me (Baudelaire often uses imagery invoking alcoholics). Enjoy.

Vat of Hatred

Hate is the leaking vat of the Danaides;
Even baffled Vengeance, his shoulders hard and red,
Exerts himself in vain to fill the puzzling space
With buckets full of blood and tears drained from the dead.

The Fiend has opened secret sewers in the well
Through which could pour a thousand years of sweat and strain,
When he himself will raise each victim's mortal shell
To squeeze, to resurrect the body once again.

Hate is a sodden drunkard on the tavern floor
Who suffers from an endless thirst for alcohol;
Like Lorna's hydra, it's his own progenitor.

--The cheerful drunkards know the reason for their fall,
But Hatred is an addict who is never able
To fall down drunk and sleep it off under the table.


Works Cited

Baudelaire, Charles. "Vat of Hatred." The Flowers of Evil and Paris Spleen. Trans. William H. Crosby. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd., 1991. 135.