by: Charles Baudelaire
are some powerful odours that can pass
- Out of the stoppard flagon; even glass
- To them is porous. Oft when some old box
- Brought from the East is opened and the locks
- And hinges creak and cry; or in a press
- In some deserted house, where the sharp stress
- Of odours old and dusty fills the brain;
- An ancient flask is brought to light again,
- And forth the ghosts of long-dead odours creep.
- There, softly trembling in the shadows, sleep
- A thousand thoughts, funereal chrysalides,
- Phantoms of old the folding darkness hides,
- Who make faint flutterings as their wings unfold,
- Rose-washed and azure-tinted, shot with gold.
- A memory that brings languor flutters here:
- The fainting eyelids droop, and giddy Fear
- Thrusts with both hands the soul towards the pit
- Where, like a Lazarus from his winding-sheet,
- Arises from the gulf of sleep a ghost
- Of an old passion, long since loved and lost.
- So I, when vanished from man's memory
- Deep in some dark and sombre chest I lie,
- An empty flagon they have cast aside,
- Broken and soiled, the dust upon my pride,
- Will be your shroud, beloved pestilence!
- The witness of your might and virulence,
- Sweet poison mixed by angels; bitter cup
- Of life and death my heart has drunken up!
MORE POEMS BY CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
'The Flask' is reprinted from The
Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James Huneker.
New York: Brentano's, 1919.