Monday, February 22, 2010

To a Madonna

(Not my favorite translation, but it will do.

I'd build, Madonna, love, for my belief,
An altar in the dim crypt of my grief,
And in the darkest comer of my heart,
From mortal lust and mockery far apart,
Scoop you a niche, with gold and azure glaze,
Where you would stand in wonderment and gaze,
With my pure verses trellised, and all round
In constellated rhymes of crystal bound:
And with a huge tiara richly crowned.
Out of the Jealousy which rules my passion,
Mortal Madonna, I a cloak would fashion,
Barbarous, stiff, and heavy with my doubt,
Whereon as in a fourm you would fill out
And mould your lair. Of tears, not pearls, would be
The sparkle of its rich embroidery:
Your robe would be my lust, with waving flow,
Poising on tips, in valleys lying low,
And clothing, in one kiss, coral and snow.
In my Respect you'll be shod
Which your white feet would humble to the clod,
While prisoning their flesh with tender hold
It kept their shape imprinted like a mould.
If for a footstool to support your shoon,
For all my art, I could not get the moon,
I'd throw the serpent, that devours my vitals
Under your trampling heels for his requitals,
Victorious queen, to spurn, bruise, and belittle
That monstrous worm blown-up with hate and spittle.
Round you my thoughts like candles should be seen
Around the flowered shrine of the virgins' Queen,
Reflected on a roof that's painted blue,
And aiming all their golden eyes at you.
Since nought is in me that you do not stir,
All will be incense, benjamin, and myrrh,
And up to you, white peak, in clouds will soar
My stormy soul, in rapture, to adore.

In fine, your role of Mary to perfect
And mingle barbarism with respect —
Of seven deadly sins, O black delight!
Remorseful torturer, to show my sleight,
I'll forge and sharpen seven deadly swords
And like a callous juggler on the boards,
Taking it for my target, I would dart
Them deep into your streaming, sobbing heart.

-Charles Baudelaire

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