The Mask (Charles Baudelaire)

Contemplate this treasure of Florentine graces;
In the undulation of this muscular body
Elegance and Strength, divine sisters, abound.
This woman, truly a miraculous piece of work,
Divinely robust, adorably thin,
Was made to be enthroned in sumptuous beds
And to beguile the leisures of a pontiff or prince.

– And look at this delicate, voluptous smile
In which Fatuity parades its ecstasy;
That long, sly glance, langorous and mocking;
That dainty face, framed all in veils,
Whose every feature says to us with a victorious air:
« Voluptuousness calls me and Love crowns me! »
See what an exciting charm kindness lends
To that being endowed with so much majesty!
Let us approach and contemplate her beauty from all sides.

Oh blasphemy of art! Oh fatal surprise!
This woman with a divine body, promising so much pleasure,
Is really a two-headed monster!

– But no! It is only a mask, a seductive ornament,
That face illuminated by an exquisite grimace,
And look, here, atrociously convulsed,
The true head, and the sincere face,
Hidden behind the screen of the lying face.
Poor great beauty! The magnificent river
Of your tears flows into my anxious heart;
Your deception intoxicates me, and my soul drinks deep
From the flood that Sorrow causes to gust from your eyes!

– But why does she cry? She, perfect beauty,
Who could have at her feet all of vanquished humanity,
What mysterious sorrow gnaws at her athlete’s flank?

– She cries, you fool, because she has lived!
And because she lives! But what she deplores
Above all else, and what makes her tremble down to her knees,

Is that tomorrow, alas!, she must continue to live!

Tomorrow, and the next day, and always! — like us!

publié dans chambre de lecture, florilège, le scriboire, poèmes and tagged , , .

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