14 September 2006 | Vol. 6, No. 3


Rest on my heart, deaf, cruel soul, adored

Tigress, and monster with the lazy air.

I long, in the black jungles of your hair,

To force each finger thrilling like a sword:

Within wide skirts, filled with your scent, to hide

My bruised and battered forehead hour by hour,

And breathe, like dampness from a withered flower,

The pleasant mildew of a love that died.

Rather than live, I wish to sleep, alas!

Lulled in a slumber soft and dark as death,

In ruthless kisses lavishing my breath

Upon your body smooth as burnished brass.

To swallow up my sorrows in eclipse,

Nothing can match your couch's deep abysses;

The stream of Lethe issues from your kisses

And powerful oblivion from your lips.

Like a predestined victim I submit:

My doom, to me, henceforth, is my delight,

A willing martyr in my own despite

Whose fervour fans the faggots it has lit.

To drown my rancour and to heal its smart,

Nepenthe and sweet hemlock, peace and rest,

I'll drink from the twin summits of a breast

That never lodged the semblance of a heart.

– Roy Campbell, tr.

About the author:

1821-1867. Charles Baudelaire was among the most important poets of the nineteenth century. His most famous collection is Les Fleurs du mal ("The Flowers of Evil"). Learn more about Charles Baudelaire at Wikipedia.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Charles Baudelaire at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 3, where "Lethe" ran on September 14, 2006. List other work with these same labels: poetry, classic, translation, rhyme.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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