baudelaire:kid o:cartel

Spleen 2.23.05

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

Paysage 2.20.05


I would, in chastely composing this pastoral anthology,
Sit close to the sky, like an ancient astrologer.
And, neighbour to bellfries, I’ll listen and dream
To the sound of their solemn tolls bourne on the breeze.
My hands at my chin, from the peak of my attic,
I’ll take in the singing and clanking of workshops below,
The steeples and chimneys, those masts of the city
And the great skies above them, eternity's dream.

How soft to see born, across the fog of the city,
A lamp in a window, a star in the blue,
Or, as rivers of chimney-smoke rise to the heavens,
The pale moon pour out its enchantments beneath.
I'll witness these Springs, these Summers, these Autumns,
And when Winter arrives with gray flakes of snow,
I'll firmly close the drapes and the shutters,
And build fairy-tale Palaces at night ‘gainst the cold.
Dreaming of gardens and bright blue horizons,
Of kisses and tearful white fountains of stone,
Of songbirds who warble at dawn and at dusk,
I’ll fashion an Idyll from childhood’s motifs.
The tumult will clatter in vain at my window;
I'll neither startle nor lift my head from my desk.
But stay plunged in the voluptuous task that I’ve chosen,
Of evoking the Springtime by sheer force of effort,
Of drawing some Sun from out of my heartache,
Of making, from out of my heated Obsessions,
The balm of a warm puff of smoke.

--Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du Mal
english adaptation, paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005

To Arsene Houssaye 2.19.05

My Dear Friend,

I send you a little work of which no one can say, without doing it an injustice, that it has neither head nor tail, since, on the contrary, everything in it is both head and tail, alternately and reciprocally. I beg you to consider how admirably convenient this combination is for all of us, for you, for me, and for the reader. We can cut wherever we please, I my dreaming, you your manuscript, the reader his reading; for I do not keep the reader's restive mind hanging in suspense on the threads of an interminable and superfluous plot. Take away one vertebra and the two ends of this tortuous fantasy come together again without pain. Chop it into numerous pieces and you will see that each one can get along alone. In the hope that there is enough life in some of these segments to please and to amuse you. I take the liberty of dedicating the whole serpent to you.

--Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen
trans. Louise Varèse, posted by kid o

Au Lecteur 2.16.05

To my Reader

Addiction, debauchery, indulgence and vice
Obsessively devour our bodies and minds
And we feed our precious regrets
Like beggars nourish their lice.

Our sins are bold. Our repentances lax.
We pay out our penance with fat wads of cash
Then stubbornly dive down the same dirty path,
Half-believing our sick sobs might wash us clean.

Big Daddy Satan sits on a Pillow of Souls
Devotedly cradling our submissive licks.
Mining the veins of our will and our cravings,
A savvy chemist, he nurses our fix.

It’s the Devil that knows how to tug at our strings,
And though we’re disgusted, we make peace with things.
Calmly and daily past shadows of stink
We take one more step in pursuit of the brink.

Just like that poor junkie who kisses and feeds
At the martyred tit of an elderly whore,
We steal pleasure in treading this passage to Hell,
We squeeze and we suckle, as if working an orange.

Like an army of tapeworms, close-ranked and bright,
Thousands of demons writhe in our skulls.
And when we breathe, like an invisible river,
Death descends muffled overtaking our wails.

If rape, if poison, if a gun or a knife
Have not yet stitched a scar cross our cheek,
Banal canvas of our pitiful lives,
Then it’s sadly because our souls were too weak!

Midst the hookahs, the needles, the pills and the junk
The vials, the emetics, the cheap rooms, the porn
The condoms, the vein-hunting, nose-feeding night
Midst that infamous mob, our monsters of vice

There is one more ugly, more wicked, more unclean
Despite that it makes neither gestures nor screams
It may fashion of Earth but a pile of debris,
Or with one facile gag, it might swallow the sea.

Boredom! Its eye caught in an unwilling tear,
Dreams of the hangman while puffing its pipe.
My reader, you know this delicate beast.
Hypocrite brother, my reflection, my mirror!

--Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal

english adaptation by paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005

spleen 2.15.05

I have more memories than if I’d a thousand years.

An overstuffed drawer lined with pages and tears
With poems, past due notices, and locks of hair
Hides no more secrets than my sad brain.
A pyramid. A cavern. A mass grave.
I am a cemetery abandoned by the moon
Where remorse, trailing fingers of worms,
Feeds on the beloved of my dead.
I am a bedroom littered with roses
Mothballed with dresses from decades ago
Where only the face on an old magazine
Breathes a living perfume.

Nothing can match those heavy days
When under the weight of snow-filled years
Boredom, that idle fruit
Takes the measure of the infinite.
You are no more than this, my Life,
A stone sculpture beneath a disfiguring wave
Reclining unmapped midst wind-driven sands
A fierce Sphinx forgotten by a too-busy world
Whose throat only sings when the sun turns away.

--Charles Baudelaire, les Fleurs du Mal

english adaptation: paul delehanty / kid oakland © 2005