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Charles Baudelaire
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Condemned Women (Femmes damnées)
by Charles Baudelaire (1857); translated by Cyril Scott (1909).

Like thoughtful cattle on the yellow sands reclined,
They turn their eyes towards the horizon of the sea,
Their feet towards each other stretched, their hands entwined,
They tell of gentle yearning, frigid misery.

A few, with heart-confiding faith of old, imbued
Amid the darkling grove, where silver streamlets flow,
Unfold to each their loves of tender infanthood,
And carve the verdant stems of the vine-kissed portico.

And others like unto nuns with footsteps slow and grave,
Ascend the hallowed rocks of ancient mystic lore,
Where long ago — St. Anthony, like a surging wave,
The naked purpled breasts of his temptation saw.

And still some more, that 'neath the shimmering masses stroll,
Among the silent chasm of some pagan caves,
To soothe their burning fevers unto thee they call
O Bacchus! who all ancient wounds and sorrow laves.

And others again, whose necks in scapulars delight,
Who hide a whip beneath their garments secretly,
Commingling, in the sombre wood and lonesome night,
The foam of torments and of tears with ecstasy.

O virgins, demons, monsters, and O martyred brood!
Great souls that mock Reality with remorseless sneers,
O saints and satyrs, searchers for infinitude!
At times so full of shouts, at times so full of tears!

You, to whom within your hell my spirit flies,
Poor sisters — yea, I love you as I pity you,
For your unsatiated thirsts and anguished sighs,
And for the vials of love within your hearts so true.


PAGE 3 OF 3.

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AUTHOR: Charles Baudelaire (1857); translated by Cyril Scott (1909).
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