The man who tortures himself
by Charles Baudelaire
I shall cleave without scrape or shock,
And, like a butcher, without hate,
Like Moses, when he struck the rock.
From your eyes I shall generate
Waters of woe throughout the years
To quench my fierce Sahara fires,
Swollen with vast hope, my desires
Shall float upon your bitter tears
Like a proud vessel, sailing large;
And in my heart, drunk at the sound,
Your cherished sobbing shall resound
Like drums beating the long lost charge.
Am I not a discordant note
In the celestial symphony,
Thanks to voracious Irony
Who shakes and bites me at the throat?
She’s in my voice, the scold; her black
Poison is all my blood, alas!
I am the direful looking glass
Which flashes her reflection back.
I am the wound, the knives that strike,
The blows that crush, the head that reels,
I am wrenched limbs and grinding wheels,
Victim and hangman, as you like!
Vampire of my own heart, meanwhile,
A derelict, I am of those
Doomed to eternal laughter’s throes,
Yet powerless to frame a smile!