Charles Baudelaire

Spleen 3

I am like the king of a rainy land, Wealthy but powerless, both young and very old, Who contemns the fawning manners of his tutors And is bored with his dogs and other animals. Nothing can cheer him, neither the chase nor falcons, Nor his people dying before his balcony. The ludicrous ballads of his favorite clown No longer smooth the brow of this cruel invalid; His bed, adorned with fleurs-de-lis, becomes a grave; The lady's maids, to whom every prince is handsome, No longer can find gowns shameless enough To wring a smile from this young skeleton. The alchemist who makes his gold was never able To extract from him the tainted element, And in those baths of blood come down from Roman times, And which in their old age the powerful recall, He failed to warm this dazed cadaver in whose veins Flows the green water of Lethe in place of blood. Translated by - William Aggeler Spleen I'm like a king of rainy lands and cold - wealthy, but impotent: still young, but old — who, scornful of his tutors' bows, prefers his hounds and boredom to such grovellers. nor stag nor falcon rouse his apathy, nor starving subjects 'neath his balcony. his favourite jester's wildest ballads now no longer clear his cruel, sickened brow; his royal bed's a coffin drowned in care, and court-ladies, to whom all kings are fair, - seeking a smile from that young skeleton — no longer find one shameless robe to don. nor can the sage who makes him gold succeed in purging him of Death's corruptive seed, nor in the baths of blood the Romans knew, wherein the agèd rich their strength renew, learn how to warm that cold numb corpse, through whose dull veins, for blood, green Lethe's waters ooze. Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks The King of the Rainy Country A rainy country this, that I am monarch of, - A rich but powerless king, worn-out while yet a boy; For whom in vain the falcon falls upon the dove; Not even his starving people's groans can give him joy; Scorning his tutors, loathing his spaniels, finding stale His favorite jester's quips, yawning at the droll tale. His bed, for all its looks like a tomb; The ladies of the court, attending him, to whom He, being a prince, is handsome, see him lying there Cold as a corpse, and lift their shoulders in despair: No garment they take off, no garter they leave on Excites the gloomy eye of this young skeleton. The royal alchemist, who makes him gold from lead, The baser element from out the royal head Cannot extract; nor can those Roman baths of blood, For some so efficacious, cure the hebetude Of him, along whose veins, where flows no blood at all, For ever the slow waters of green Lethe crawl. Translated by - Edna St. Vincent Millay Spleen I'm like the king of a rain-country, rich but sterile, young but with an old wolf's itch, one who escapes his tutor's monologues, and kills the day in boredom with his dogs; nothing cheers him, darts, tennis, falconry, his people dying by the balcony; the bawdry of the pet hermaphrodite no longer gets him through a single night; his bed of fleur-de-lys becomes a tomb; even the ladies of the court, for whom all kings are beautiful, cannot put on shameful enough dresses for this skeleton; the scholar who makes his gold cannot invent washes to cleanse the poisoned element; even in baths of blood, Rome's legacy, our tyrants' solace in senility, he cannot warm up his shot corpse, whose food is syrup-green Lethean ooze, not blood. Translated by - Robert Lowell Spleen I'm like the King of some damp, rainy clime, Grown impotent and old before my time, Who scorns the bows and scrapings of his teachers And bores himself with hounds and all such creatures. Naught can amuse him, falcon, steed, or chase: No, not the mortal plight of his whole race Dying before his balcony. The tune, Sung to this tyrant by his pet buffoon, Irks him. His couch seems far more like a grave. Even the girls, for whom all kings seem brave, Can think no toilet up, nor shameless rig, To draw a smirk from this funereal prig. The sage who makes him gold, could never find The baser element that rots his mind. Even those blood-baths the old Romans knew And later thugs have imitated too, Can't warm this skeleton to deeds of slaughter, Whose only blood is Lethe's cold, green water. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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