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Charles Baudelaire
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The Accursed (Femmes damnées)
by Charles Baudelaire (1857); translated by F.P. Sturm (1906).

Like pensive herds at rest upon the sands,
These to the sea-horizons turn their eyes;
Out of their folded feet and clinging hands
Bitter sharp tremblings and soft languors rise.

Some tread the thicket by the babbling stream,
Their hearts with untold secrets ill at ease;
Calling the lover of their childhood's dream,
They wound the green bark of the shooting trees.

Others like sisters wander, grave and slow,
Among the rocks haunted by spectres thin,
Where Antony saw as larvæ surge and flow
The veined bare breasts that tempted him to sin.

Some, when the resinous torch of burning wood
Flares in lost pagan caverns dark and deep,
Call thee to quench the fever in their blood,
Bacchus, who singest old remorse to sleep!

Then there are those the scapular bedights,
Whose long white vestments hide the whip's red stain,
Who mix, in sombre woods on lonely nights,
The foam of pleasure with the tears of pain.

O virgins, demons, monsters, martyrs! ye
Who scorn whatever actual appears;
Saints, satyrs, seekers of Infinity,
So full of cries, so full of bitter tears;

Ye whom my soul has followed into hell,
I love and pity, O sad sisters mine,
Your thirsts unquenched, your pains no tongue can tell,
And your great hearts, those urns of love divine!


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AUTHOR: Charles Baudelaire (1857); translated by F.P. Sturm (1906).
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