Charles Baudelaire

The Murderer's Wine

My wife is dead and I am free! Now I can drink my fill; When I'd come home without a sou, Her screaming would drive me crazy. I am as happy as a king; The air is pure, the sky superb... We had a summer like this When I fell in love with her! To satisfy the awful thirst That tortures me, I'd have to drink All the wine it would take to fill Her grave - that is not a little: I threw her down a well, And what is more, I dropped on her All the stones of the well's rim. I will forget her if I can! In the name of love's vows, From which nothing can release us, And to become the friends we were When we first knew passion's rapture, I begged of her a rendezvous At night, on a deserted road. She came there! - mad creature! We're all more or less mad! She was still attractive, Although very tired! and I, I loved her too much! that is why I said to her: Depart this life! None can understand me. Did one Among all those stupid drunkards Ever dream in his morbid nights Of making a shroud of wine? That dissolute crowd, unfeeling As an iron machine, Never, nor summer, nor winter, Has known what true love is, With its black enchantments, Its hellish cortege of alarms, Its phials of poison, and its tears, Its noise of chains and dead men's bones! - Here I am free and all alone! I'll get blind drunk tonight; Then without fear, without remorse, I'll lie down on the ground And I'll sleep like a dog! The dump-cart with its heavy wheels Loaded with mud and rocks, The careening wagon may well Crush in my guilty head Or cut my body in two; I laugh at God, at the Devil, And at the Holy Table as well! Translated by - William Aggeler The Murderer's Wine My wife is dead and I am free, Now I may drink to my content; When I came back without a cent Her piteous outcries tortured me. Now I am happy as a king, The air is pure, the sky is clear; Just such a summer as that year, When first I went a-sweethearting. A horrible thirst is tearing me, To quench it I should have to swill Just as much cool wine as would fill Her tomb - that's no small quantity. I threw her down and then began To pile upon her where she fell All the great stones around the well - I shall forget it if I can. By all the soft vows of our prime, By those eternal oaths we swore, And that our love might be once more As 'twas in our old passionate time, I begged her in a lonely spot To come and meet me at nightfall; She came, mad creature - we are all More or less crazy, are we not? She was quite pretty still, my wife, Though she was very tired, and I, I loved her too much, that is why I said to her, "Come, quit this life." No one can grasp my thought aright; Did any of these sodden swine Ever conceive a shroud of wine On his most strangely morbid night? Dull and insensible above Iron machines, that stupid crew, Summer or winter, never knew The agonies of real love. So now I am without a care! Dead-drunk this evening I shall be, Then fearlessly, remorselessly Shall lie out in the open air. And sleep there like a homeless cur; Some cart may rumble with a load Of stones or mud along the road And crush my head - I shall not stir. Some heavy dray incontinent May come and cut me clean in two: I laugh at thought o't as I do At Devil, God, and Sacrament. Translated by - Jack Collings Squire The Drunkard My wife is dead, and I am free! Now I can drink both night and day. When I came home without my pay Her crying upset me horribly. I am as happy as a king. The air is soft. The sky is clear. Ah, what a lovely spring, this year! I courted her in such a spring. Now I can drink to drown my care As much wine as her tomb would hold - The tomb where she lies pale and cold. And that will be no small affair, For I have thrown her, body and limb, In an old well; I even threw All the loose stones around the brim On top of her. Good riddance, too! I asked her in the name of Christ, To whom our marriage vows were told, To be my sweetheart as of old - To come to a forsaken tryst We had when we were young and gay, That everything might be the same: And she, the foolish creature, came! We all have our weak moments, eh? She was attractive still, all right, Though faded. I still loved her - more Than there was rhyme or reason for. I had to end it, come what might! Nobody understands me. What's The use of wasting my good breath Explaining to these stupid sots The mysteries of love and death? They take their women by routine, These louts - the way they eat and drink. Which one has ever stopped to think What the word love might really mean? Love, with its softness in your reins, With all its nightmares, all its fears, Its cups of poison mixed with tears, Its rattling skeletons and chains. - Well, here I am, alone and free! Tonight I will be drunk for fair, And I will lay me down, I swear, Upon the highroad happily, And sleep like an old dog, be sure, Right where the heavy trucks go by, Loaded with gravel and manure. The wheel can smear my brains out - ay, Or it can break me like a clod In two, or it can mash me flat. I care about as much for that As for the long white beard of God! Translated by - George Dillon The Wine of the Murderer My wife is dead. I'm free. From hence I'll drink my fill, and that's the truth! Each time I came back with no pence, Her screechings drilled me like a tooth. Now I'm as happy as a king... Air pure, a cloudless sky above. I can remember such a thing The summer that we fell in love. To quench the thirst that tears my throat It would require the vats to flow Enough to set her tomb afloat - And that's no thimbleful, oh no! I threw her in a well to drown, With the walled rocks that round it stood, To keep her there, and hold her down - I would forget her if I could! Pleading our early tender vows, Which naught could break for evermore, To reconcile us, spouse to spouse, In the same raptures as before - I begged of her a rendezvous One evening in a gloomy lane. She came - a crazy thing to do! We all are more-or-less insane! She still was quite attractive, though A little tired and ill: and I Still loved her more than ever: so I said, "Get out of life, and die!" None understand me. Could a single "Drunk" of the stupid sort design, On morbid nights, by his own ingle, To make a winding sheet of wine? Of dense invulnerable stuff, Like engines built to shunt or shove, They've never known, through smooth or rough, The veritable power of love, its black enchantments, fiery trials, Processions of infernal pains, Its burning tears, its poison phials, Its rattling bones, and jingling chains. Now I am free and all alone. Tonight I'll get dead-drunk, of course. My head I'll pillow on a stone Without repentance or remorse. And there I'll sleep like any dog. The lumbering cart with massive wheels Piled up with stones, or peat, or bog, Or hurtling wagon, as it reels May crush my skull in, like a clod, Or halve me at the crossing-level. I'd care as little as for God, The Ten Commandments, or the Devil. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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