Baudelaire: If it wasn’t for bad luck …

The High Window

baudelaire photobaudelaire sig


N.B. The original text for each poem s can be accessed by clicking on its French title. [Ed.]


Charles Baudelaire:  Five Poems Translated by Stuart Henson


Le Jeu

Stretched on their tired chaises-longues, the ancient whores:
too much foundation, too much rouge, they ooze
a feral scent of sweat and musk; their eyes
hollow, compelling; rattling cheap rhinestones in thin ears.

Around the baize their lipless faces glimmer,
cratered like moons, and their arthritic claws
stretch eagerly to grasp the dice, the wheel’s shimmer,
and stuff slim pickings down their dingy bras.

Lamps swing pale saucers from the sooted beams,
too weak to cast more than a yellow stain
across the brows of geniuses who prostitute their poems
of love and truth for something more mundane.

It’s here like Dante in his reverie
you’ll find me, guideless and silent, seated alone
in a corner, leaning and shivering

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