Charles Baudelaire

The Vampire

You who, like the stab of a knife, Entered my plaintive heart; You who, strong as a herd Of demons, came, ardent and adorned, To make your bed and your domain Of my humiliated mind - Infamous bitch to whom I'm bound Like the convict to his chain, Like the stubborn gambler to the game, Like the drunkard to his wine, Like the maggots to the corpse, - Accurst, accurst be you! I begged the swift poniard To gain for me my liberty, I asked perfidious poison To give aid to my cowardice. Alas! both poison and the knife Contemptuously said to me: "You do not deserve to be freed From your accursed slavery, Fool! - if from her domination Our efforts could deliver you, Your kisses would resuscitate The cadaver of your vampire!" Translated by - William Aggeler The Vampire You who, keen as a carving blade, Into my plaintive heart has plunged, You who, strong as a wild array Of crazed and costumed cacodaemons, Storming into my helpless soul To make your bed and your domain; — Tainted jade to whom I'm joined Like a convict to his chain, Like a gambler to his game, Like a drunkard to his bottle, Like maggot-worms to their cadaver, Damn you, oh damn you I say! I pleaded with the speedy sword To win me back my liberty; And finally, a desperate coward, I turned to poison's perfidy. Alas, but poison and the sword Had only scorn to offer me: "You're not worthy to be free Of your wretched slavery, You imbecile! — For if our means Should release you from her reign, You with your kisses would only breathe New life into the vampire slain!" Translated by - Atti Viragh The Vampire Thou, sharper than a dagger thrust Sinking into my plaintive heart, Thou, frenzied and arrayed in lust, Strong as a demon host whose art Possessed my humbled soul at last, Made it thy bed and thy domain, Strumpet, to whom I am bound fast As is the convict to his chain, The stubborn gambler to his dice, The rabid drunkard to his bowl, The carcass to its vermin lice - O thrice-accursèd be thy soul! I called on the swift sword to smite One blow to free my life of this, I begged perfidious aconite For succor in my cowardice. But sword and poison in my need Heaped scorn upon my craven mood, Saying: "Unworthy to be freed, From thine accursed servitude, O fool, if through our efforts, Fate Absolved thee from thy sorry plight, Thy kisses would resuscitate Thy vampire's corpse for thy delight." Translated by - Jacques LeClercq The Vampire Thou who abruptly as a knife Didst come into my heart; thou who, A demon horde into my life, Didst enter, wildly dancing, through The doorways of my sense unlatched To make my spirit thy domain - Harlot to whom I am attached As convicts to the ball and chain, As gamblers to the wheel's bright spell, As drunkards to their raging thirst, As corpses to their worms - accurst Be thou! Oh, be thou damned to hell! I have entreated the swift sword To strike, that I at once be freed; The poisoned phial I have implored To plot with me a ruthless deed. Alas! the phial and the blade Do cry aloud and laugh at me: "Thou art not worthy of our aid; Thou art not worthy to be free. "Though one of us should be the tool To save thee from thy wretched fate, Thy kisses would resuscitate The body of thy vampire, fool!" Translated by - George Dillon The Vampire You, who like a dagger ploughed Into my heart with deadly thrill: You who, stronger than a crowd Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill, Of my dejected soul have made Your bed, your lodging, and domain: To whom I'm linked (Unseemly jade!) As is a convict to his chain, Or as the gamester to his dice, Or as the drunkard to his dram, Or as the carrion to its lice - I curse you. Would my curse could damn! I have besought the sudden blade To win for me my freedom back. Perfidious poison I have prayed To help my cowardice. Alack! Both poison and the sword disdained My cowardice, and seemed to say "You are not fit to be unchained From your damned servitude. Away, You imbecile! since if from her empire We were to liberate the slave, You'd raise the carrion of your vampire, By your own kisses, from the grave." Translated by - Roy Campbell

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