THE VENAL MUSE
by: Charles Baudelaire
of my heart, lover of palaces,
- When January comes with wind and sleet,
- During the snowy eve's long weariness,
- Will there be fire to warm thy violet feet?
- Wilt thou reanimate thy marble shoulders
- In the moon-beams that through the window fly?
- Or when thy purse dries up, thy palace moulders,
- Reap the far star-gold of the vaulted sky?
- For thou, to keep thy body to thy soul,
- Must swing a censor, wear a holy stole,
- And chaunt Te Deums with unbelief between.
- Or, like a starving mountebank, expose
- Thy beauty and thy tear-drowned smile to those
- Who wait thy jests to drive away thy spleen.
MORE POEMS BY CHARLES BAUDELAIRE
'The Venal Muse' is reprinted from
The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire. Ed. James
Huneker. New York: Brentano's, 1919.