HYMN TO BEAUTY
by: Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)
- Beauty! dost thou generate from Heaven or from Hell?
- Within thy glance, so diabolic and divine,
- Confusedly both wickedness and goodness dwell,
- And hence one might compare thee unto sparkling wine.
- Thy look containeth both the dawn and sunset stars,
- Thy perfumes, as upon a sultry night exhale,
- Thy kiss a philter, and thy mouth a Grecian vase,
- That renders heroes cowardly and infants hale.
- Yea, art thou from the planets, or the fiery womb?
- The demon follows in thy train, with magic fraught,
- Thou scatter'st seeds haphazardly of joy and doom,
- Thou govern'st everything, but answer'st unto nought.
- O Loveliness! thou spurnest corpses with delight,
- Among thy jewels, Horror hath such charms for thee,
- And Murder 'mid thy mostly cherished trinklets bright,
- Upon thy massive bosom dances amorously.
- The blinded, fluttering moth towards the candle flies,
- Then frizzles, falls, and falters"Blessings unto thee"
- The panting swain that o'er his beauteous mistress sighs,
- Seems like the Sick, that stroke their gravestones lovingly.
- What matter, if thou comest from the Heavens or Hell,
- O Beauty, frightful ghoul, ingenuous and obscure!
- So long thine eyes, thy smile, to me the way can tell
- Towards that Infinite I love, but never saw.
- From God or Satan? Angel, Mermaid, Proserpine?
- What matter if thou makestblithe, voluptuous sprite
- With rhythms, perfumes, visionsO mine only queen!
- The universe less hideous and the hours less trite.
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|"Hymn to Beauty" is reprinted from The Flowers of Evil. Charles Baudelaire. London: Elkin Mathews, 1909.