I am like the king of a rain-soaked domain
Rich, but impotent, young, yet infirm,
Who disdains his advisors who grovel and bend,
And bores of his hounds, his falcon, his friends.
Nothing can cheer him, neither hunt nor the chase,
Nor his people butchered in front of his face.
His jester recounting a ribald grotesque
Fails to distract this impassive wretch.
Whose fleur-de-lys chamber is more like a tomb,
Where damsels of court, vainly decked in perfume,
Who'd eagerly fawn, and for any prince swoon,
Can’t win a glance from their skeletal king.
The chemist who fashions this tyrant's gold,
Could not extract the impure from his soul.
And even that ritual of the corrupted and old,
The antique spilling of blood in a bowl,
Elicits no warmth from this meagre corpse,
In whose veins the green waters of Death run their course.
--Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du Mal
english adaptation: paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005