The Vampire

female-vampires-7

Charles Baudelaire’s
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Le Vampire

Toi qui, comme un coup de couteau,
Dans mon coeur plaintif es entrée;
Toi qui, forte comme un troupeau
De démons, vins, folle et parée,

De mon esprit humilié
Faire ton lit et ton domaine;
— Infâme à qui je suis lié
Comme le forçat à la chaîne,

Comme au jeu le joueur têtu,
Comme à la bouteille l’ivrogne,
Comme aux vermines la charogne
— Maudite, maudite sois-tu!

J’ai prié le glaive rapide
De conquérir ma liberté,
Et j’ai dit au poison perfide
De secourir ma lâcheté.

Hélas! le poison et le glaive
M’ont pris en dédain et m’ont dit:
«Tu n’es pas digne qu’on t’enlève
À ton esclavage maudit,

Imbécile! — de son empire
Si nos efforts te délivraient,
Tes baisers ressusciteraient
Le cadavre de ton vampire!»

Charles Baudelaire

 

The Vampire

You who, like the stab of a knife,
Entered my plaintive heart;
You who, strong as a herd
Of demons, came, ardent and adorned,

To make your bed and your domain
Of my humiliated mind
— Infamous bitch to whom I’m bound
Like the convict to his chain,

Like the stubborn gambler to the game,
Like the drunkard to his wine,
Like the maggots to the corpse,
— Accurst, accurst be you!

I begged the swift poniard
To gain for me my liberty,
I asked perfidious poison
To give aid to my cowardice.

Alas! both poison and the knife
Contemptuously said to me:
“You do not deserve to be freed
From your accursed slavery,

Fool! — if from her domination
Our efforts could deliver you,
Your kisses would resuscitate
The cadaver of your vampire!”

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

 

The Vampire

You, who like a dagger ploughed
Into my heart with deadly thrill:
You who, stronger than a crowd
Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill,

Of my dejected soul have made
Your bed, your lodging, and domain:
To whom I’m linked (Unseemly jade!)
As is a convict to his chain,

Or as the gamester to his dice,
Or as the drunkard to his dram,
Or as the carrion to its lice —
I curse you. Would my curse could damn!

I have besought the sudden blade
To win for me my freedom back.
Perfidious poison I have prayed
To help my cowardice. Alack!

Both poison and the sword disdained
My cowardice, and seemed to say
“You are not fit to be unchained
From your damned servitude. Away,

You imbecile! since if from her empire
We were to liberate the slave,
You’d raise the carrion of your vampire,
By your own kisses, from the grave.”

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

 

The Vampire

Thou who abruptly as a knife
Didst come into my heart; thou who,
A demon horde into my life,
Didst enter, wildly dancing, through

The doorways of my sense unlatched
To make my spirit thy domain —
Harlot to whom I am attached
As convicts to the ball and chain,

As gamblers to the wheel’s bright spell,
As drunkards to their raging thirst,
As corpses to their worms — accurst
Be thou! Oh, be thou damned to hell!

I have entreated the swift sword
To strike, that I at once be freed;
The poisoned phial I have implored
To plot with me a ruthless deed.

Alas! the phial and the blade
Do cry aloud and laugh at me:
“Thou art not worthy of our aid;
Thou art not worthy to be free.

“Though one of us should be the tool
To save thee from thy wretched fate,
Thy kisses would resuscitate
The body of thy vampire, fool!”

— George Dillon, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)

 

The Vampire

Thou, sharper than a dagger thrust
Sinking into my plaintive heart,
Thou, frenzied and arrayed in lust,
Strong as a demon host whose art

Possessed my humbled soul at last,
Made it thy bed and thy domain,
Strumpet, to whom I am bound fast
As is the convict to his chain,

The stubborn gambler to his dice,
The rabid drunkard to his bowl,
The carcass to its vermin lice —
O thrice-accursèd be thy soul!

I called on the swift sword to smite
One blow to free my life of this,
I begged perfidious aconite
For succor in my cowardice.

But sword and poison in my need
Heaped scorn upon my craven mood,
Saying: “Unworthy to be freed,
From thine accursed servitude,

O fool, if through our efforts, Fate
Absolved thee from thy sorry plight,
Thy kisses would resuscitate
Thy vampire’s corpse for thy delight.”

— Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil (Mt Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1958)

 

The Vampire

You who, keen as a carving blade,
Into my plaintive heart has plunged,
You who, strong as a wild array
Of crazed and costumed cacodaemons,

Storming into my helpless soul
To make your bed and your domain;
— Tainted jade to whom I’m joined
Like a convict to his chain,

Like a gambler to his game,
Like a drunkard to his bottle,
Like maggot-worms to their cadaver,
Damn you, oh damn you I say!

I pleaded with the speedy sword
To win me back my liberty;
And finally, a desperate coward,
I turned to poison’s perfidy.

Alas, but poison and the sword
Had only scorn to offer me:
“You’re not worthy to be free
Of your wretched slavery,

You imbecile! — For if our means
Should release you from her reign,
You with your kisses would only breathe
New life into the vampire slain!”

 

The Vampire’s Metamorphoses

The woman meanwhile, twisting like a snake
On hot coals and kneading her breasts against the steel
Of her corset, from her mouth red as strawberries
Let flow these words impregnated with musk:
— “I, I have moist lips, and I know the art
Of losing old Conscience in the depths of a bed.
I dry all tears on my triumphant breasts
And make old men laugh with the laughter of children.
I replace, for him who sees me nude, without veils,
The moon, the sun, the stars and the heavens!
I am, my dear scholar, so learned in pleasure
That when I smother a man in my fearful arms,
Or when, timid and licentious, frail and robust,
I yield my bosom to biting kisses
On those two soft cushions which swoon with emotion,
The powerless angels would damn themselves for me!”

When she had sucked out all the marrow from my bones
And I languidly turned toward her
To give back an amorous kiss, I saw no more
Than a wine-skin with gluey sides, all full of pus!
Frozen with terror, I closed both my eyes,
And when I opened them to the bright light,
At my side, instead of the robust manikin
Who seemed to have laid in a store of blood,
There quivered confusedly a heap of old bones,
Which of themselves gave forth the cry of a weather-cock
Or of a sign on the end of an iron rod
That the wind swings to and fro on a winter night.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

 

The Metamorphoses of the Vampire

The crimson-fruited mouth that I desired —
While, like a snake on coals, she twinged and twired,
Kneading her breasts against her creaking busk —
Let fall those words impregnated with musk,
— “My lips are humid: by my learned science,
All conscience, in my bed, becomes compliance.
My breasts, triumphant, staunch all tears; for me
Old men, like little children, laugh with glee.
For those who see me naked, I replace
Sun, moon, the sky, and all the stars in space.
I am so skilled, dear sage, in arts of pleasure,
That, when with man my deadly arms I measure,
Or to his teeth and kisses yield my bust,
Timid yet lustful, fragile, yet robust,
On sheets that swoon with passion — you might see
Impotent angels damn themselves for me.”

When of my marrow she had sucked each bone
And, languishing, I turned with loving moan
To kiss her in return, with overplus,
She seemed a swollen wineskin, full of pus.
I shut my eyes with horror at the sight,
But when I opened them, in the clear light,
I saw, instead of the great swollen doll
That, bloated with my lifeblood, used to loll,
The debris of a skeleton, assembling
With shrill squawks of a weathercock, lie trembling,
Or sounds, with which the howling winds commingle,
Of an old Inn-sign on a rusty tringle.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

 

Metamorphoses of the Vampire

Meanwhile from her red mouth the woman, in husky tones,
Twisting her body like a serpent upon hot stones
And straining her white breasts from their imprisonment,
Let fall these words, as potent as a heavy scent:
“My lips are moist and yielding, and I know the way
To keep the antique demon of remorse at bay.
All sorrows die upon my bosom. I can make
Old men laugh happily as children for my sake.
For him who sees me naked in my tresses, I
Replace the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky!
Believe me, learnèd sir, I am so deeply skilled
That when I wind a lover in my soft arms, and yield
My breasts like two ripe fruits for his devouring — both
Shy and voluptuous, insatiable and loath —
Upon this bed that groans and sighs luxuriously
Even the impotent angels would be damned for me!”

When she had drained me of my very marrow, and cold
And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss — behold,
There at my side was nothing but a hideous
Putrescent thing, all faceless and exuding pus.
I closed my eyes and mercifully swooned till day:
And when I looked at morning for that beast of prey
Who seemed to have replenished her arteries from my own,
The wan, disjointed fragments of a skeleton
Wagged up and down in a lewd posture where she had lain,
Rattling with each convulsion like a weathervane
Or an old sign that creaks upon its bracket, right
Mournfully in the wind upon a winter’s night.

— George Dillon, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)

 

Metamorphoses of a Vampire

Meanwhile the woman, writhing like a snake
On fiery coals, kneaded her breasts to make
Them hug their steely corset; and she said,
Her lips redder than strawberries are red:

“Behold, my mouth is moist, and on my deep
Couch I can lull grim Conscience fast asleep,
I dry all tears on my triumphant breasts,
Where old men laugh like boys at boyish jests.
For him who sees me naked, I comprise
All moons and suns and stars and clouds and skies!
I am so skilled, fond scholar, in love’s charms
That when I hug you in my ruthless arms,
Or, shy and lustful, frail and forceful, when
I yield taut nipples to the teeth of men,
My bosom’s pillows, palpitant, would doom
Angels to ruin for coveting my womb…”

When she had sucked my marrow dry, I turned,
Languid, to give her back the kiss she earned,
Only to view, I fond and amorous,
A viscid wineskin, nidorous with pus…

Frozen with fear, I shut my eyelids tight,
Then, opening them against the garish light,
I saw no solid puppet by my side
Whose lusts my blood, drained dry, had satisfied,
But a debris of quavering bone on bone,
Moaning as only weathervanes can moan,
And creaking as a rusty signpost might
Lashed by the furies of a winter night.

— Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil (Mt Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1958)

 

The Metamorphoses of the Vampire

Then the woman with the strawberry mouth,
Squirming like a snake upon the coals,
Kneading her breasts against the iron of her corset,
Let flow these words scented with musk:
— “I have wet lips, and I know the art
Of losing old conscience in the depths of a bed.
I dry all tears on my triumphing breasts
And I make old men laugh with the laughter of children.
For those who see me naked, without any covering,
I am the moon and the sun and the sky and the stars!
I am so dexterous in voluptuous love, my dear, my wise one,
When I strangle a man in my dreadful arms,
Or abandon my breast to his biting,
So shy and lascivious, so frail and vigorous,
That on these cushions that swoon with passion
The powerless angels damn their souls for me!”

When she had sucked the pith from my bones
And, drooping, I turned towards her
To give her the kiss of love, I saw only
An old leather bottle with sticky sides and full of pus!
I shut both eyes in cold dismay
And when I opened them both to clear reality,
By my side, instead of that powerful puppet
Which seemed to have taken some lease of blood,
There shook vaguely the remains of a skeleton,
Which itself gave the cry of a weathercock
Or of a sign-board, at the end of a rod of iron,
Which the wind swings in winter nights.

— Geoffrey Wagner, Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire (NY: Grove Press, 1974)

http://fleursdumal.org/poem/186

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via Offerings (1988) — HORRORPEDIA

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