Charles Baudelaire

Posthumous Remorse

When you will sleep, O dusky beauty mine, Beneath a monument fashioned of black marble, When you will have for bedroom and mansion Only a rain-swept vault and a hollow grave, When the slab of stone, oppressing your frightened breast And your flanks now supple with charming nonchalance, Will keep your heart from beating, from wishing, And your feet from running their adventurous course, The tomb, confidant of my infinite dreams (For the tomb will always understand the poet) Through those long nights from which all sleep is banned, will say: "What does it profit you, imperfect courtesan, Not to have known why the dead weep?" - And like remorse the worm will gnaw your skin. Translated by - William Aggeler Remords posthume when thou wilt sleep, dark girl of shadowy gaze, down in the cold black marble of a tomb, a dripping vault thine only tiring-room, thine only bed a grave where all decays, when rock shall press thy paling breast and graze thy limbs now languorous-lovely in the gloom - shall crush thy faltering heart, thy will consume and halt thy feet in their adventurous ways, the Grave, that knows what infinite dreams I keep, (o Grave, the poet's friend forever, thou!) all through the night bereft of exiled sleep, shall ask: "art sorry, wretched wanton, now, not to have learned why dead men weep, perforce?" - and worms shall gnaw thy breast like sharp remorse. Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks Posthumous Remorse Ah, when thou shalt slumber, my darkling love, Beneath a black marble-made statuette, And when thou'lt have nought for thy house or alcove, But a cavernous den and a damp oubliette. When the tomb-stone, oppressing thy timorous breast, And thy hips drooping sweetly with listless decay, The pulse and desires of mine heart shall arrest, And thy feet from pursuing their adventurous way, Then the grave, that dark friend of my limitless dreams (For the grave ever readeth the poet aright), Amid those long nights, which no slumber redeems 'Twill query - "What use to thee, incomplete spright That thou ne'er hast unfathomed the tears of the dead"? - Then the worms will gnaw deep at thy body, like Dread. Translated by - Cyril Scott Remorse Too Late My dark and lovely thing, when you at length lie dead, And sleep beneath a slab of marble black as pitch; And have, for perfumed alcove and seductive bed, Only a rainy cavern and a hollow ditch; When the oppressive stone upon your frightened breast Lets settle all its weight, and on your supple thighs; Restrains your heart from beating, flattens it to rest; Bends down and binds your feet, so roving, so unwise; The tomb, that knows me well and reads my dream aright, (What poet but confides his secret to the tomb?) Will say to you some day during that endless night, "They fare but ill, vain courtesan, in this cold room, Who bring here no warm memories of true love to keep!" - And like remorse the worm will gnaw you in your sleep. Translated by - Edna St. Vincent Millay Posthumous Remorse When, O sweet dusky beauty, you shall rest Deep under a bleak marble monument, When for last manor yours the tenement Of rainswept vault or hollow ditch at best, When the long stone weighs down your frightened breast And flanks - so supple now and indolent — Choking your heart's beat and your feet's intent To race again on their adventurous quest, The tomb, confidant of my endless dreams, shall keep Vigil through those long nights that know not sleep, (Poet and tomb were friends since Time began) Saying: "What use, imperfect courtesan, Not to make known what dead men mourn perforce?" While the worm gnaws you sharply as remorse. Translated by - Jacques LeClercq Posthumous Remorse When you're asleep, dear shadow-coloured wench, Within a coal-black, marble monument: When, for your room and mansion, you are pent In a wet cellar and a hollow trench: When the stone, pressing on your startled breast And flanks in fluent suppleness competing, Prevents your heart from wishing or from beating, Your feet from racing on their reckless quest. The tomb that shares my deathless recollection (For poets best are understood by tombs) On those long nights, when never sleep presumes, Will say, "What boots, frail vase of imperfection, Not to have known what pains with death begin?" - And, like remorse, the worm will gnaw your skin. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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