Charles Baudelaire

The Two Good Sisters

Debauchery and Death are two lovable girls, Lavish with their kisses and rich with health, Whose ever-virgin loins, draped with tattered clothes and Burdened with constant work, have never given birth. To the sinister poet, foe of families, Poorly paid courtier, favorite of hell, Graves and brothels show beneath their bowers A bed in which remorse has never slept. The bier and the alcove, fertile in blasphemies Like two good sisters, offer to us in turn Terrible pleasures and frightful sweetness. When will you bury me, Debauch with the filthy arms? Death, her rival in charms, when will you come To graft black cypress on her infected myrtle? Translated by - William Aggeler The Two Good Sisters Debauchery and Death are pleasant twins, And lavish with their charms, a buxom pair! Under the rags that clothe their virgin skins, Their wombs, though still in labour, never bear. For the curst poet, foe to married rest, The friend of hell, and courtier on half-pay - Brothels and tombs reserve for such a guest A bed on which repentance never lay. Both tomb and bed, in blasphemy so fecund Each other's hospitality to second, Prepare grim treats, and hatch atrocious things. Debauch, when will you bury me? When, Death, Mingle your Cypress in the selfsame wreath With the infected Myrtles that she brings? Translated by - Roy Campbell

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