by: Charles Baudelaire
oblivious garden of indolence,
- Pillow of cool flesh where no man dreams of love,
- Where life flows forth in troubled opulence,
- As airs in heaven and seas in ocean move.
- LEONARD DA VINCI, sombre and fathomless glass,
- Where lovely angels with calm lips that smile,
- Heavy with mystery, in the shadow pass,
- Among the ice and pines that guard some isle.
- REMBRANDT, sad hospital that a murmuring fills,
- Where one tall crucifix hangs on the walls,
- Where every tear-drowned prayer some woe distils,
- And one cold, wintry ray obliquely falls.
- Strong MICHELANGELO, a vague far place
- Where mingle Christs with pagan Hercules;
- Thin phantoms of the great through twilight pace,
- And tear their shroud with clenched hands void of ease.
- The fighter's anger, the faun's impudence,
- Thou makest of all these a lovely thing;
- Proud heart, sick body, mind's magnificence:
- PUGET, the convict's melancholy king.
- WATTEAU, the carnival of illustrious hearts,
- Fluttering like moths upon the wings of chance;
- Bright lustres light the silk that flames and darts,
- And pour down folly on the whirling dance.
- GOYA, a nightmare full of things unknown;
- The ftus witches broil on Sabbath night;
- Old women at the mirror; children lone
- Who tempt old demons with their limbs delight.
- DEACROIX, lake of blood ill angels haunt,
- Where ever-green, o'ershadowing woods arise;
- Under the surly heaven strange fanfares chaunt
- And pass, like one of Weber's strangled sighs.
- And malediction, blasphemy and groan,
- Ecstasies, cries, Te Deums, and tears of brine,
- Are echoes through a thousand labyrinths flown;
- For mortal hearts an opiate divine;
- A shout cried by a thousand sentinels,
- An order from a thousand bugles tossed,
- A beacon o'er a thousand citadels,
- A call to huntsmen in deep woodlands lost.
- It is the mightiest witness that could rise
- To prove our dignity, O Lord, to Thee;
- This sob that rolls from age to age, and dies
- Upon the verge of Thy Eternity!
MORE POEMS BY CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
'The Beacons' is reprinted from
The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James
Huneker. New York: Brentano's, 1919.