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Charles Baudelaire
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Venus and the Fool (Le Fou et la Vénus)
by Charles Baudelaire (1869); translated by Guy Thorne (1915).

How glorious the day! The great park swoons beneath the Sun's burning eye, as youth beneath the Lordship of Love.

Earth's ecstasy is all around, the waters are drifting into sleep. Silence reigns in nature's revel, as sound does in human joy. The waning light casts a glamour over the world. The sun-kissed flowers plume the day with colour, and fling incense to the winds. They desire to rival the painted sky.

Yet, amidst the rout, I see one sore afflicted thing. A motley fool, a willing clown who brings laughter to the lips of kings when weariness and remorse oppress them; a fool in a gaudy dress, coiffed in cap and bells, huddles at the foot of a huge Venus. His eyes are full of tears, and raised to the goddess they seem to say:

"I am the last and most alone of mortals, inferior to the meanest animal, in that I am denied either love or friendship. Yet I, even I, am made for human sympathy and the adoration of immortal Beauty. Goddess, have pity, have mercy on my sadness and despair."

But the implacable Venus stares through the world with her steady marble eyes.

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AUTHOR: Charles Baudelaire (1869); translated by Guy Thorne (1915).
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