BAUDELAIRE TO HIS LOVE
by: Joseph T. Shipley
languid tiger-lily, swaying
- Unconcerned, my lips are burned with the kiss
- You waft me, my head turned, and I swoon with bliss.
- Out of the anguish of your arms I'm praying
- That life shall end with this.
- You are my memory of Egyptian suns
- When I adored the phallic pyramids
- And found you couched beside the Sphinx, that bids
- Beware. Frantic and vain my dream that once
- Love seeped through drowsy lids.
- Where no gods be, man makes his god, and you
- Are god or devil fashioned for my woe;
- From you my pangs and parlous pleasures flow;
- Would I had strength to be blasphemous, untrue,
- Would I could bid you go!
- But all a hemisphere whirls in the tress
- You shake at me; imprisoned there I dwell.
- Its secret dreads I do not dare to tell;
- It is my paradise--ah! who will bless
- Me with the gift of hell!
- And you have loved before--if the flaming passion
- That roars through you to what it shall consume,
- Be love--and I would wring an awful doom
- On those who held you first, and I would fashion
- Their strait abysmal tomb.
- There I would bid you wander, calling, calling
- The ghosts of those with whom your frenzy played
- Discarding (Were you ever an untried maid?)
- I would engulf you there. Run blindly, falling!--
- But that I am afraid.
- And fear is new to me; I fear and wonder;
- I prick my flesh with fear to feel it squirm.
- I grasp you, quivering; I hold you firm;
- And when the ground I trample heaves with thunder
- I hail my end, the worm.
- And once, you said the brat was mine. Ill-fated!
- Whelped of a dastard and a dusky whore.
- Through what dives shall it crawl? Upon what floor
- Lick up perversion? Are new sins created
- That it may cry for more?
- I loved my mother once; the thought lurks ever
- Somewhere, redeeming; I am not wholly gone.
- What if my life be but the cross laid on?
- But he will find no respite, surcease never;
- All suns and sins are wan.
- There was a time when mad suns out of me
- Lighted and whirled a universe untold,
- Whose realms were henna-spiced, whose maidens bold;
- I have burned eons; there is naught to see;
- I whirl in endless cold.
- If out of time and space you have conceived
- A garden of luxurious delight
- Where I am rooted in you, and my plight
- Flowers in your laughter, still you are bereaved
- By the noxious breath of night.
- Out of your menace spring exotic blooms,
- Gnarled morbid growths and leering venomed vines,
- And you the unholy temptress that entwines
- Where flickering maudlin sunlights blotch our glooms
- And my soul pants and pines.
- And in that garden I have set a shrine
- Where I am poet, warrior, and priest,
- Know, kill, create; my senses are increased
- Beyond love's evil; passion's bread and wine
- Is my ecstatic feast.
- I watch the incense pouring through that skull,
- And those are chimneys now that once were eyes,
- And all is fetid I could ever prize,
- And a transcendant glory now is dull
- And even evil dies.
- We can forget time but by using it;
- And pleasure sizzles drearily; the clod--
- Knowing creation is the fall of God--
- Stumbles through the blindness to the heart of wit,
- And my numbed senses nod.
- Voluptuousness is circling cruelty
- Burning like heat and cold; I must live fast,
- Tasting each joy lest that joy be the last:
- A gust from the wing of imbecility
- Has warningly swept past.
- I wake anew to pangs of eager lust;
- I am enhungered for forgotten food;
- The world is straitlaced; I am frankly lewd:
- In universal horror and disgust
- I shall find solitude.
POEMS BY JOSEPH T. SHIPLEY
"Baudelaire to His Love"
is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New
York: Crown Publishers, 1921.