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The Poems and Prose Poems of Charles Baudelaire

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.

Charles Baudelaire

the irreparable

Can we suppress the old Remorse
Who bends our heart beneath his stroke,
Who feeds, as worms feed on the corse,
Or as the acorn on the oak?
Can we suppress the old Remorse!

Ah, in what philtre, wine, or spell,
May we drown this our ancient foe,
Destructive glutton, gorging well,
Patient as the ants, and slow?
What wine, what philtre, or what spell?

Tell it, enchantress, if you can,
Tell me, with anguish overcast,
Wounded, as a dying man,
Beneath the swift hoofs hurrying past.
Tell it, enchantress, if you can,

To him the wolf already tears
Who sees the carrion pinions wave,
This broken warrior who despairs
To have a cross above his grave—
This wretch the wolf already tears.

Can one illume a leaden sky,
Or tear apart the shadowy veil
Thicker than pitch, no star on high,
Not one funereal glimmer pale
Can one illume a leaden sky?

Hope lit the windows of the Inn,
But now that shining flame is dead;
And how shall martyred pilgrims win
Along the moonless road they tread?
Satan has darkened all the Inn!

Witch, do you love accursèd hearts?
Say, do you know the reprobate?
Know you Remorse, whose venomed darts
Make souls the targets for their hate?
Witch, do you know accursèd hearts?

The Might-have-been with tooth accursed
Gnaws at the piteous souls of men,
The deep foundations suffer first,
And all the structure crumbles then
Beneath the bitter tooth accursed.


Often, when seated at the play,
And sonorous music lights the stage,
I see the frail hand of a Fay
With magic dawn illume the rage
Of the dark sky. Oft at the play

A being made of gauze and fire
Casts to the earth a Demon great.
And my heart, whence all hopes expire,
Is like a stage where I await,
In vain, the Fay with wings of fire!