by: Charles Baudelaire
- 'M like
some king in whose corrupted veins
- Flows agèd blood; who rules a land of rains;
- Who, young in years, is old in all distress;
- Who flees good counsel to find weariness
- Among his dogs and playthings, who is stirred
- Neither by hunting-hound nor hunting-bird;
- Whose weary face emotion moves no more
- E'en when his people die before his door.
- His favourite Jester's most fantastic wile
- Upon that sick, cruel face can raise no smile;
- The courtly dames, to whom all kings are good,
- Can lighten this young skeleton's dull mood
- No more with shameless toilets. In his gloom
- Even his lilied bed becomes a tomb.
- The sage who takes his gold essays in vain
- To purge away the old corrupted strain,
- His baths of blood, that in the days of old
- The Romans used when their hot blood grew cold,
- Will never warm this dead man's bloodless pains,
- For green Lethean water fills his veins.
MORE POEMS BY CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
'Spleen' is reprinted from The
Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James Huneker.
New York: Brentano's, 1919.