Six years ago I began to translate, one by one, the poems of Baudelaire. It was the summer of 2007, and I had just turned twenty-one and completed a third year of college in California. My reasons, to be honest, remain mysterious and inarticulate to me even now: it’s been hard, upon the handful of occasions here in New York when I’ve been asked about exactly why I did it, not to answer in a way that doesn’t sound facetiously stupid: to learn about (modern) poetry, say, or because it made me happy, or perhaps most frivolous of all, to read Baudelaire. The answer I’ve tended to give has been that I had literary ambitions of my own, was unsure of my capacity to satisfy them, and so submitted myself to the task of translating a major poet in order to resolve those doubts one way or the other.

But maybe this response, when you look more closely at it, proves even sillier than all the rest. Time is short, is here and now: why make a six-year detour through a foreign poet from a distant era, why seek the modern in the past? Probably the best thing to do is not to answer, to let the presence of the translations (which ended up encompassing 170 poems, the entirety of Baudelaire’s verse) speak for themselves, but New York, during the year I’ve spent here, has consistently indicated to me that silence, dignified or otherwise, is not a viable option. Perhaps a few ancillary notes upon the features of the translations here presented will strike the proper balance between preposterous and revealing.

The first things likely to leap out to the reader accustomed to “mainstream” contemporary poetry are the presence of strong, regular rhyme, the occasional deployment of an archaic syntax (“cultured beast and soft,” “pious arms and sage,” “faces full devoured”), and the frequent exercise of tropes associated with Romanticism and Romantic poetry (“shining fields of peace,” “destinies beyond the flow of time,” “imbued with agile strength”). These features correspond directly to aspects of the original text. Not only do all of Baudelaire’s verses rhyme, several of them refer directly to the labor of discovering and employing rhyme; rhyme was no vestigial plaything to him, but an essential, perhaps the essential material element of verse. Even in the nineteenth century his usage of French came off as antiquated: when Czeslaw Milosz was presented with two sonnets with no author indicated, one by Baudelaire and one from the sixteenth-century, he was unable to tell which poem had been authored by which poet. And although Baudelaire had a vexatious relationship with French Romanticism and with its leading poet Victor Hugo in particular, he was acutely conscious that his own sensibility was thoroughly Romantic: if, viewed through the lens of literary history, he now appears to have transcended Romantic ideology, he did so less by criticizing it from without than by experiencing it from within, by taking its images and precepts as axioms and pursuing them to their lethal, logical conclusion.

The arrangement of the poems of Les Fleurs du Mal constitutes the narrative of that pursuit. In time the journey leads through women, symbols, the life of cities, alcohol, sex, class warfare, and annihilation, but for now, for the space of these five poems inaugurated by “Benediction” (the sixth, the unnumbered “To the Reader,” serves a more directorial function, acting as a table of contents or cast of characters rather than as a active component within the tale itself) the poet, or Poet rather, incarnates the original Romantic ideal: he is an isolated spirit with a heroic higher calling who, though far from oblivious of the damaged and damaging world he is compelled to suffer in, is nonetheless distinct from that reality, for he believes in heavenly redemption and possesses a vision of perfected beauty. 

Of course, the Poet who stars in “Benediction” and the poet who wrote the poem “Benediction” are not identical: already the irony frequently attributed to Baudelaire seems to be in full effect. But it’s important to distinguish Baudelaire’s irony from the kind of sneering nihilism which the word connotes today. The Poet is not Baudelaire, but nor is he a straw man set up merely to insult the possibility of transcending human suffering through art and faith. His figure is both preposterous and meant to be taken absolutely seriously: although he is not Baudelaire, it is clear that, for the poem to succeed, Baudelaire must inhabit him. The part is not the actor, but the actor, if he aims to move, must be the part. For the first time we can see how Baudelaire’s poetic alchemy and critical intelligence support each other: an integral, self-evident Romantic truth is transformed into a part or symbol (one of many, as the rest of the book will prove) and then the part or symbol is proposed as a question or a wager for the reader—can the spirit of the poet, if he holds true to art and faith, survive society’s tortures and humiliations not just unscathed but grateful to have suffered?—which she is free to take up or refuse according to her will. In my experience, the legendary “modernity” of Baudelaire presents itself not in poetic form, which is overwhelmingly traditional, nor in content, which is largely antiquated, but in a consistent, direct tone of voice whose revitalizing  shock is curiously amplified by the discarded or outdated figures through which it expresses itself—engaging without being overbearing and reserved without being indifferent, it presumes and performs a respectful liberty, equality, and fraternity between the poet and the reader, between the speaker and the forms of which he speaks.

And it’s this tone, so simple to describe and difficult to enact, which I’ve attempted to discover, reproduce, and then inhabit, like a role, with complete fidelity. The work has changed a great deal over these six years, but its animating faith remained the same throughout: I believed that Baudelaire has yet to make his entrance in America, and that I could be the one to introduce him fully and correctly, could capture and release the sound, the tone, the power and the justice of his speech. Such a belief is, of course, preposterous. But I’d also like for you to take it absolutely seriously.

Frank Guan



Au Lecteur  

La sottise, l’erreur, le péché, la lésine,
Occupent nos esprits et travaillent nos corps,
Et nous alimentons nos aimables remords,
Comme les mendiants nourrissent leur vermine. 

Nos péchés sont têtus, nos repentirs sont lâches ;
Nous nous faisons payer grassement nos aveux,
Et nous rentrons gaiement dans le chemin bourbeux,
Croyant par de vils pleurs laver toutes nos taches.

Sur l’oreiller du mal c’est Satan Trismégiste
Qui berce longuement notre esprit enchanté,
Et le riche métal de notre volonté
Est tout vaporisé par ce savant chimiste.

C’est le Diable qui tient les fils qui nous remuent !
Aux objets répugnants nous trouvons des appas ;
Chaque jour vers l’Enfer nous descendons d’un pas,
Sans horreur, à travers des ténèbres qui puent. 

Ainsi qu’un débauché pauvre qui baise et mange
Le sein martyrisé d’une antique catin,
Nous volons au passage un plaisir clandestin
Que nous pressons bien fort comme une vieille orange.

Serré, fourmillant, comme un million d’helminthes,
Dans nos cerveaux ribote un peuple de Démons,
Et, quand nous respirons, la Mort dans nos poumons
Descend, fleuve invisible, avec de sourdes plaintes.

Si le viol, le poison, le poignard, l’incendie,
N’ont pas encor brodé de leurs plaisants dessins
Le canevas banal de nos piteux destins,
C’est que notre âme, hélas ! n’est pas assez hardie.

Mais parmi les chacals, les panthères, les lices,
Les singes, les scorpions, les vautours, les serpents,
Les monstres glapissants, hurlants, grognants, rampants,
Dans la ménagerie infâme de nos vices,

II en est un plus laid, plus méchant, plus immonde !
Quoiqu’il ne pousse ni grands gestes ni grands cris,
Il ferait volontiers de la terre un débris
Et dans un bâillement avalerait le monde ;

C’est l’Ennui ! L’œil chargé d’un pleur involontaire,
II rêve d’échafauds en fumant son houka.
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
— Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère !



To the Reader

Folly, falsehood, sin, the lack of open mercies,
Possess our souls in full and overrule our flesh,
And every day we stoke our sweet remorse afresh
As homeless beggars feed their subtle worms and fleas. 

Repentances unwind. Our sins have come to stay:
We tax ourselves, we gild our vows with keen desire,
Then cheerfully revert into the slime and mire
And dream that filthy tears wash all our flaws away. 

Upon evil’s pillow Satan Trismegistus,
Whose rhythms soothe at length our charmed spirit, lies;
The rich ores of our will we so adore and prize
Are changed, through cunning spells, to mist and lost to us.

The Devil bears the cross whose strings command our work!
We excavate strange charms from figures far from fair;
Each day we further slip down Hell’s unbalanced stair,
Without respect or fear, through foully-perfumed murk.

Like an impoverished rake who kisses, claws, and roots
Upon the martyred breast of a greying harlot,
From passing life we snatch base raptures in secret
And drain them forcibly like desiccated fruits. 

Dense-aligned and swarming, like a verminous tide,
A race of Demons howls and folds our brain in fire,
And willful Death swirls in our lungs when we respire,
To fall, an unseen stream, with voiceless pains beside. 

If poison, murder, rape, and arson, red and black,
Have failed to trace designs that charm and enervate
On the vacant canvas of our pathetic fate,
It’s since our souls, alas! were atrophied and slack. 

But amidst the jackals, panthers, hound-bitches, lice,
Recoiling scorpions, giant snakes, vultures, chimpanzees,
The beasts that bark and scream, that moan and crawl and seize,
In the menagerie of all our shameful vice, 

There still lives one more vile, more cruel, more foul! No brawn
Abides within his arms, no force within his voice,
But he would drown the earth in blood and flame by choice
And would swallow the world with a fanciful yawn; 

It’s Torpor! eye infused with tears unwilled and thin,
He burns hashish and dreams of bodies hung aloft.
You know him, reader, well, that cultured beast and soft,
—My hypocrite reader—my partner, and my twin!


Spleen et Idéal 

1. Bénédiction 

Lorsque, par un décret des puissances suprêmes,
Le Poëte apparaît en ce monde ennuyé,
Sa mère épouvantée et pleine de blasphèmes
Crispe ses poings vers Dieu, qui la prend en pitié :

— « Ah ! que n’ai-je mis bas tout un nœud de vipères,
Plutôt que de nourrir cette dérision !
Maudite soit la nuit aux plaisirs éphémères
Où mon ventre a conçu mon expiation !

Puisque tu m’as choisie entre toutes les femmes
Pour être le dégoût de mon triste mari,
Et que je ne puis pas rejeter dans les flammes,
Comme un billet d’amour, ce monstre rabougri,

Je ferai rejaillir ta haine qui m’accable
Sur l’instrument maudit de tes méchancetés,
Et je tordrai si bien cet arbre misérable,
Qu’il ne pourra pousser ses boutons empestés ! »

Elle ravale ainsi l’écume de sa haine,
Et, ne comprenant pas les desseins éternels,
Elle-même prépare au fond de la Géhenne
Les bûchers consacrés aux crimes maternels.

Pourtant, sous la tutelle invisible d’un Ange,
L’Enfant déshérité s’enivre de soleil,
Et dans tout ce qu’il boit et dans tout ce qu’il mange
Retrouve l’ambroisie et le nectar vermeil.

II joue avec le vent, cause avec le nuage,
Et s’enivre en chantant du chemin de la croix ;
Et l’Esprit qui le suit dans son pèlerinage
Pleure de le voir gai comme un oiseau des bois. 

Tous ceux qu’il veut aimer l’observent avec crainte,
Ou bien, s’enhardissant de sa tranquillité,
Cherchent à qui saura lui tirer une plainte,
Et font sur lui l’essai de leur férocité. 

Dans le pain et le vin destinés à sa bouche
Ils mêlent de la cendre avec d’impurs crachats ;
Avec hypocrisie ils jettent ce qu’il touche,
Et s’accusent d’avoir mis leurs pieds dans ses pas.

Sa femme va criant sur les places publiques :
« Puisqu’il me trouve assez belle pour m’adorer,
Je ferai le métier des idoles antiques,

Et comme elles je veux me faire redorer ; 

Et je me soûlerai de nard, d’encens, de myrrhe,
De génuflexions, de viandes et de vins,
Pour savoir si je puis dans un cœur qui m’admire
Usurper en riant les hommages divins !

Et, quand je m’ennuierai de ces farces impies,
Je poserai sur lui ma frêle et forte main ;
Et mes ongles, pareils aux ongles des harpies,
Sauront jusqu’à son cœur se frayer un chemin.

Comme un tout jeune oiseau qui tremble et qui palpite,
J’arracherai ce cœur tout rouge de son sein,
Et, pour rassasier ma bête favorite,
Je le lui jetterai par terre avec dédain ! »

Vers le Ciel, où son œil voit un trône splendide,
Le Poëte serein lève ses bras pieux,
Et les vastes éclairs de son esprit lucide
Lui dérobent l’aspect des peuples furieux : 

— « Soyez béni, mon Dieu, qui donnez la souffrance
Comme un divin remède à nos impuretés
Et comme la meilleure et la plus pure essence
Qui prépare les forts aux saintes voluptés !

Je sais que vous gardez une place au Poëte
Dans les rangs bienheureux des saintes Légions,
Et que vous l’invitez à l’éternelle fête
Des Trônes, des Vertus, des Dominations.

Je sais que la douleur est la noblesse unique
Où ne mordront jamais la terre et les enfers,
Et qu’il faut pour tresser ma couronne mystique
Imposer tous les temps et tous les univers.

Mais les bijoux perdus de l’antique Palmyre,
Les métaux inconnus, les perles de la mer,
Par votre main montés, ne pourraient pas suffire
A ce beau diadème éblouissant et clair ;

Car il ne sera fait que de pure lumière,
Puisée au foyer saint des rayons primitifs,
Et dont les yeux mortels, dans leur splendeur entière,
Ne sont que des miroirs obscurcis et plaintifs ! »


Spleen and Ideal 

1. Benediction

When, in accordance with the law of powers supreme,
The Poet’s form emerges within these torpid spheres,
His mother, seized by fear yet blasphemous, will scream
And shake her fists at God, who, pitying her, hears: 

“No! better to have spawned a viper’s cold-veined breed
Instead of nourishing this scornful, cursed thing!
A curse upon the night, brief-pleasured, when the seed
Of expiation, in my womb, began to cling!

Since, from all womankind, it was to me you came,
To make me the disgrace of my unhappy spouse,
And since I am forbid to cast into the flame,
Like ancient notes of love, this mewling, withered louse, 

I’ll redirect your flood of unforgiving strife
Upon the cursed tool of your relentless spite,
And will so firmly wring that wretched tree of life,
That its infected buds will never taste of light!”

And so her foaming wrath descends, is seen no more;
Thus, blind to destinies beyond the flow of time,
She carves out for herself, in the Inferno’s core,
The pyres sanctified for vile maternal crime.

Yet, shielded under strong unseen celestial Wings,
Though disinherited, the Child smiles in the sun;
In all he drinks and eats, he finds godly savorings:
Tastes of rich ambrosia, nectars sweet and crimson. 

He gambols with the wind, he questions cloudy skies,
He smiles and sings the Way, the Cross, the holy Word;
The Spirit trailing him on his pilgrimage cries
To see him gay and glad just like a forest bird.

The dead souls he would love observe his form with fear,
Or else, incensed to see him calm and lacking flaws,
They seek to force from him cries agonized and sheer,
And use him but to whet their long, ferocious claws.

Within the bread and wine intended for his tongue
They intermingle spit and ash and gall and ooze;
They recoil, hypocrites, from his touch as if stung,
Accuse each other’s feet of walking in his shoes.

His woman cries across the city’s teeming shelves:
“Because he deems me fair enough to worship me,
Like ancient goddesses, who made men gild their selves,
I will sway him like an Ishtar or Astarte;

Myself I’ll gorge on nard, myrrh, frankincense; on bows
Adoring and profound, on rarest meats and wine,
To see if in this heart that loves me I can rouse
A joy that overrides his praise of the divine!

And once that sacrilege, that farce is drained of zest,
Upon his form my frail and mighty hand will dart,
Equal to the Harpies: my nails will pierce his breast
And carve a direct path up to his beating heart:

Shivering and pulsing like a new-fledged sparrow,
I’ll tear it from his breast, indifferent to his pain;
To satisfy the beast I favor most, I’ll throw
It down upon the earth with insolent disdain!”

To Heaven, where his sight beholds a shining throne,
The tranquil Poet lifts his pious arms and sage,
And clarifying rays, by his clear spirit sown,
Conceal from him the face of nations damned to rage:

—”Be blessed, my Lord, who lends us agonies to cure
Us of impurities and stubborn-seated blights:
Pain’s essence is the best, divinest, and most pure!
Pain’s presence leads the strong to sacred, keen delights! 

I know that for the Poet you have reserved a place
In the joyous Legions of your holy Nations,
And call his spirit to eternal feasts of grace
To sit with Thrones and Powers, reign with Dominations. 

I know that pain confers the sole nobility
Whose honor neither earth nor hell could ever fade;
That I must, to weave my crown of mystic glory,
Demand a tax on all of time and space be laid.

And yet the jewels lost in old Palmyra’s earth,
The ores no mind distills, the pearls no sun could graze,
High-lifted by your hand, could never match the worth
Of that resplendent crown’s fair, clarifying blaze; 

For it is of pure light, celestial remembrance
Extracted from the hearth of primal, sacred rays,
Of which our mortal eyes, despite all their radiance,
Are but dark pools of glass—grim, sorrowful displays!”


2. L’Albatros 

Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l’azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d’eux. 

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule !
Lui, naguère si beau, qu’il est comique et laid !
L’un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L’autre mime, en boitant, l’infirme qui volait ! 

Le Poëte est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l’archer ;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l’empêchent de marcher.


2. The Albatross 

For entertainment’s sake, the crewmen often seize
Wandering albatrosses, grand shepherds of the wave,
Who languidly pursue, across a kindly breeze,
The ship that glides upon the bitter depths and grave.

And scarcely are they torn from open airs and light
Do those monarchs of the blues, clumsy, stripped of pride,
Let down, like broken oars, their massive wings of white
To piteously trail and limp on either side.

O bright-winged voyager, become an awkward joke!
Once beautiful and fair, now shattered, unadored!
One crams a pipe inside his beak to make him choke,
One drags his feet to mock the grounded heart that soared! 

The Poet shares a fate with the prince of the cloud
Who haunts the southern storm, scorns arrows of the north;
An exile lost on earth amidst the jeering crowd
Whose giant wings prevent his feet from striding forth.


3. Élévation 

Au-dessus des étangs, au-dessus des vallées,
Des montagnes, des bois, des nuages, des mers,
Par delà le soleil, par delà les éthers,
Par delà les confins des sphères étoilées,

Mon esprit, tu te meus avec agilité,
Et, comme un bon nageur qui se pâme dans l’onde,
Tu sillonnes gaiement l’immensité profonde
Avec une indicible et mâle volupté. 

Envole-toi bien loin de ces miasmes morbides ;
Va te purifier dans l’air supérieur,
Et bois, comme une pure et divine liqueur,
Le feu clair qui remplit les espaces limpides.

Derrière les ennuis et les vastes chagrins
Qui chargent de leur poids l’existence brumeuse,
Heureux celui qui peut d’une aile vigoureuse
S’élancer vers les champs lumineux et sereins ;

Celui dont les pensers, comme des alouettes,
Vers les cieux le matin prennent un libre essor,
— Qui plane sur la vie, et comprend sans effort
Le langage des fleurs et des choses muettes !


3. Elevation 

Above the shining lakes, the dark mountains that rear,
The vales, the woods, the clouds, the sea that overwhelms,
Beyond the sun’s vast orb, beyond ethereal realms,
Beyond the boundaries of every starry sphere,

My spirit, you ascend with deft and agile grace,
And, like a keen swimmer who gasps upon the wave,
With speechless male rapture that consummates to crave,
You cheerfully blaze paths across profoundest space. 

Escape and soar beyond these morbid fogs and rains:
Go purify yourself in a superior air;
Drink, like godly liquor, refined beyond compare,
The limpid fire that fills the clear and bright domains. 

Behind the torpors and the griefs that know no cease
And charge a world of mists with suffering to the core;
He’s fortunate who can, desiring freedom, soar
With forceful wings towards the shining fields of peace; 

The one whose thoughts, like larks in morning, gladly reach
Towards unfathomed skies, alluring, blue, and sheer,
—Who, hovering over life, can effortlessly hear
The language of the flowers and silent beings’ speech!


4. Correspondances

La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles ;
L’homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l’observent avec des regards familiers. 

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d’enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
— Et d’autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l’expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l’ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l’encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l’esprit et des sens.


4. Correspondences

Nature is a temple where columns, pulsing, warm,
Release at times a swarm of words confused as mists;
There man’s soul proceeds through massive symbol forests
Whose gazes on him bend as on a kindred form.

Like echoes, throbbing, strained, that from afar combine
Into a shadowy, deep, and soulful union,
As vast as the night and clarity’s dominion,
Sounds, colors, and perfumes correspond and entwine. 
Perfumes exist as fresh and soft as children’s skin,
Smooth and sweet like oboes, as green as prairie earth,
—And also others, rich, corrupt, assured to win,

That bear the growth of forms that live in ceaseless birth,
Like benjamins, ambers, musks and frankincenses,
Singing raptures of the spirit and the senses.


5. J’aime le souvenir de ces époques nues…

J’aime le souvenir de ces époques nues,
Dont Phœbus se plaisait à dorer les statues.
Alors l’homme et la femme en leur agilité
Jouissaient sans mensonge et sans anxiété,
Et, le ciel amoureux leur caressant l’échine,
Exerçaient la santé de leur noble machine.
Cybèle alors, fertile en produits généreux,
Ne trouvait point ses fils un poids trop onéreux,
Mais, louve au cœur gonflé de tendresses communes,
Abreuvait l’univers à ses tétines brunes.
L’homme, élégant, robuste et fort, avait le droit
D’être fier des beautés qui le nommaient leur roi ;
Fruits purs de tout outrage et vierges de gerçures,
Dont la chair lisse et ferme appelait les morsures ! 

Le Poëte aujourd’hui, quand il veut concevoir
Ces natives grandeurs, aux lieux où se font voir
La nudité de l’homme et celle de la femme,
Sent un froid ténébreux envelopper son âme
Devant ce noir tableau plein d’épouvantement.
Ô monstruosités pleurant leur vêtement !
Ô ridicules troncs ! torses dignes des masques !
Ô pauvres corps tordus, maigres, ventrus ou flasques,
Que le dieu de l’Utile, implacable et serein,
Enfants, emmaillota dans ses langes d’airain !
Et vous, femmes, hélas ! pâles comme des cierges,
Que ronge et que nourrit la débauche, et vous, vierges,
Du vice maternel traînant l’hérédité
Et toutes les hideurs de la fécondité !

Nous avons, il est vrai, nations corrompues,
Aux peuples anciens des beautés inconnues :
Des visages rongés par les chancres du cœur,
Et comme qui dirait des beautés de langueur ;
Mais ces inventions de nos muses tardives
N’empêcheront jamais les races maladives
De rendre à la jeunesse un hommage profond,
— À la sainte jeunesse, à l’air simple, au doux front,
À l’œil limpide et clair ainsi qu’une eau courante,
Et qui va répandant sur tout, insouciante
Comme l’azur du ciel, les oiseaux et les fleurs,
Ses parfums, ses chansons et ses douces chaleurs !


5. “I love the memory of years undressed and bright…” 

I love the memory of years undressed and bright,
When Phoebus gilded forms of marble with his sight.
Then each man and woman, imbued with agile strength,
Truthful and unanxious, drew joy from breath at length,
And, while the loving sky caressed their spine with flames,
Renewed their bodies’ health in noble, ardent games.
Generous Cybele, with savory gifts and rife,
Had never found her sons a burden on her life,
But, mother-wolf, her heart with broad ruth filled to burst,
With teats as brown as earth quenched universal thirst.
Man, elegant, robust, and strong, would ride the wing,
And justly, of beauties that crowned him their sole king;
Unblemished fruits, so full and virginal to blight,
Whose firm and slender flesh sighed welcoming the bite!

The Poet today, when he would form and make surge
Forth those native grandeurs, in places where emerge
Men absolutely bare, women stripped to the core,
Will feel his soul engulfed in frozen shades before
This panorama: dark, fearful, and forbidden.
O monstrous, naked forms that scream to be hidden!
O ridiculous trunks! torsos fit for farces!
O bodies: warped, thin, poor, limp, or fat as hearses,
That Utilitarian god, placid and dead-eyed,
You infants, coldly folds in brass sheets, dull and wide!
And, alas, you women! as pale as tapers lust
Devours and nourishes, and you, virgins, who must
Continue legacies of cruel, maternal crime,
Endure all stains and gore of propagative time! 

We do possess, in truth, corrupt populations,
Beauties never graced by ancient Greek sensations:
Faces full devoured by chancres of the heart,
And beauties only souls adrift in languor chart;
But no invention that our tardy muses forge
Could ever keep the race that illnesses engorge
From offering to youth a deep, respectful vow,
—To blessed youth, its plain, sweet air, its tender brow,
Its clear and lucid eye, like water in motion,
Its broad-flung, carefree rain that gives each a portion:
Carefree as skies of blue, as birds in flight, as flowers,
Its fragrances, its songs, its gentle, fiery powers!