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Charles Baudelaire
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The Murderer's Wine (Le Vin de l'assassin)
by Charles Baudelaire (1857); translated by Guy Thorne (1915).

My wife is stiffened into wax.
— Now I can drink my fill.
Her yellings tore my heart like hooks,
They were so keen and shrill.
'Tis a King's freedom that I know
Since that loud voice is still.

The day is tender blue and gold,
The sky is clear above . . .
Just such a summer as we had
When first I fell in love.
. . . I'm a King now! Such royal thoughts
Within me stir and move!

I killed her; but I could not slake
My burning lava-wave
Of hideous thirst far worse than that
Of some long-tortured slave —
If I had wine enough to fill
Her solitary, deep grave.

In slime and dark her body lies;
It echoed as it fell.
(I will remember this no more.)
Her tomb no man can tell.
I cast great blocks of stone on her,
The curb-stones of the well.

We swore a thousand oaths of love;
Absolved we cannot be
Nor ever reconciled, as when
We both lived happily;
. . . 'Twas evening on a darkling road
When the mad thing met me.

We all are mad, this I well think.
. . . The madness of my wife
Was to come, tired and beautiful,
To a madman with a knife!
I loved her far too much, 'twas why
I hurried her from life.

I am alone among my friends,
And of our sodden crowd
No single drunkard understands
I sit apart and vowed.
They do not weave all night, and throw
Wine-shuttles through a shroud!

True love has black enchantments; chains
That rattle, and damp fears;
Wan phials of poison, dead men's bones,
And horrible salt tears.
Of this the iron-bound drunkard knows
Nothing, nor nothing hears.

I am alone. My wife is dead.
And dead-drunk will I be
This self-same night, a clod on earth
With naught to trouble me.
A dog I'll be, in a long dog-sleep,
Oblivious and free!

The chariot with heavy wheels
Comes rumbling through the night.
Crushed stones and mud are on its wheels,
It is a thing of might!
The wain of retribution moves
Slowly, as is most right.

It comes, to crack my guilty head
Or crush my belly through,
I care not who the driver is;
God and the devil too
— Sitting side by side — can do no more
Than that they needs must do!


PAGE 2 OF 2.

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AUTHOR: Charles Baudelaire (1857); translated by Guy Thorne (1915).
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