Charles Baudelaire

The Vampire's Metamorphoses

The woman meanwhile, twisting like a snake On hot coals and kneading her breasts against the steel Of her corset, from her mouth red as strawberries Let flow these words impregnated with musk: - "I, I have moist lips, and I know the art Of losing old Conscience in the depths of a bed. I dry all tears on my triumphant breasts And make old men laugh with the laughter of children. I replace, for him who sees me nude, without veils, The moon, the sun, the stars and the heavens! I am, my dear scholar, so learned in pleasure That when I smother a man in my fearful arms, Or when, timid and licentious, frail and robust, I yield my bosom to biting kisses On those two soft cushions which swoon with emotion, The powerless angels would damn themselves for me!" When she had sucked out all the marrow from my bones And I languidly turned toward her To give back an amorous kiss, I saw no more Than a wine-skin with gluey sides, all full of pus! Frozen with terror, I closed both my eyes, And when I opened them to the bright light, At my side, instead of the robust manikin Who seemed to have laid in a store of blood, There quivered confusedly a heap of old bones, Which of themselves gave forth the cry of a weather-cock Or of a sign on the end of an iron rod That the wind swings to and fro on a winter night. Translated by - William Aggeler The Metamorphoses of the Vampire Then the woman with the strawberry mouth, Squirming like a snake upon the coals, Kneading her breasts against the iron of her corset, Let flow these words scented with musk: - "I have wet lips, and I know the art Of losing old conscience in the depths of a bed. I dry all tears on my triumphing breasts And I make old men laugh with the laughter of children. For those who see me naked, without any covering, I am the moon and the sun and the sky and the stars! I am so dexterous in voluptuous love, my dear, my wise one, When I strangle a man in my dreadful arms, Or abandon my breast to his biting, So shy and lascivious, so frail and vigorous, That on these cushions that swoon with passion The powerless angels damn their souls for me!" When she had sucked the pith from my bones And, drooping, I turned towards her To give her the kiss of love, I saw only An old leather bottle with sticky sides and full of pus! I shut both eyes in cold dismay And when I opened them both to clear reality, By my side, instead of that powerful puppet Which seemed to have taken some lease of blood, There shook vaguely the remains of a skeleton, Which itself gave the cry of a weathercock Or of a sign-board, at the end of a rod of iron, Which the wind swings in winter nights. Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner Metamorphoses of a Vampire Meanwhile the woman, writhing like a snake On fiery coals, kneaded her breasts to make Them hug their steely corset; and she said, Her lips redder than strawberries are red: "Behold, my mouth is moist, and on my deep Couch I can lull grim Conscience fast asleep, I dry all tears on my triumphant breasts, Where old men laugh like boys at boyish jests. For him who sees me naked, I comprise All moons and suns and stars and clouds and skies! I am so skilled, fond scholar, in love's charms That when I hug you in my ruthless arms, Or, shy and lustful, frail and forceful, when I yield taut nipples to the teeth of men, My bosom's pillows, palpitant, would doom Angels to ruin for coveting my womb..." When she had sucked my marrow dry, I turned, Languid, to give her back the kiss she earned, Only to view, I fond and amorous, A viscid wineskin, nidorous with pus... Frozen with fear, I shut my eyelids tight, Then, opening them against the garish light, I saw no solid puppet by my side Whose lusts my blood, drained dry, had satisfied, But a debris of quavering bone on bone, Moaning as only weathervanes can moan, And creaking as a rusty signpost might Lashed by the furies of a winter night. Translated by - Jacques LeClercq Metamorphoses of the Vampire Meanwhile from her red mouth the woman, in husky tones, Twisting her body like a serpent upon hot stones And straining her white breasts from their imprisonment, Let fall these words, as potent as a heavy scent: "My lips are moist and yielding, and I know the way To keep the antique demon of remorse at bay. All sorrows die upon my bosom. I can make Old men laugh happily as children for my sake. For him who sees me naked in my tresses, I Replace the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky! Believe me, learnèd sir, I am so deeply skilled That when I wind a lover in my soft arms, and yield My breasts like two ripe fruits for his devouring - both Shy and voluptuous, insatiable and loath - Upon this bed that groans and sighs luxuriously Even the impotent angels would be damned for me!" When she had drained me of my very marrow, and cold And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss - behold, There at my side was nothing but a hideous Putrescent thing, all faceless and exuding pus. I closed my eyes and mercifully swooned till day: And when I looked at morning for that beast of prey Who seemed to have replenished her arteries from my own, The wan, disjointed fragments of a skeleton Wagged up and down in a lewd posture where she had lain, Rattling with each convulsion like a weathervane Or an old sign that creaks upon its bracket, right Mournfully in the wind upon a winter's night. Translated by - George Dillon The Metamorphoses of the Vampire The crimson-fruited mouth that I desired - While, like a snake on coals, she twinged and twired, Kneading her breasts against her creaking busk - Let fall those words impregnated with musk, - "My lips are humid: by my learned science, All conscience, in my bed, becomes compliance. My breasts, triumphant, staunch all tears; for me Old men, like little children, laugh with glee. For those who see me naked, I replace Sun, moon, the sky, and all the stars in space. I am so skilled, dear sage, in arts of pleasure, That, when with man my deadly arms I measure, Or to his teeth and kisses yield my bust, Timid yet lustful, fragile, yet robust, On sheets that swoon with passion - you might see Impotent angels damn themselves for me." When of my marrow she had sucked each bone And, languishing, I turned with loving moan To kiss her in return, with overplus, She seemed a swollen wineskin, full of pus. I shut my eyes with horror at the sight, But when I opened them, in the clear light, I saw, instead of the great swollen doll That, bloated with my lifeblood, used to loll, The debris of a skeleton, assembling With shrill squawks of a weathercock, lie trembling, Or sounds, with which the howling winds commingle, Of an old Inn-sign on a rusty tringle. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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