Lethe (Cruel)

Clark Ashton Smith

(Translated "from the French of Charles Pierre Baudelaire")

Cruel and deaf, come to my heart again,
O indolent sphinx, tigress that I adore!
Long, long my trembling fingers would explore
The dense and heavy darkness of thy mane;

And in thy skirts, a perfume-laden pall,
I would enshroud this ever-aching head,
The musty sweetness of my passion dead
Like faded flowers breathed amid the fall.

For I would sleep, rather than live, alas!
Doubtful as death that all-desired slumber
Where unremorseful kisses without number
Will cover thy beautiful body polished like brass.

Unequalled in thy couch, that soft abyss,
To engulf the sighs and sobbings of my drouth;
Potent oblivion dwells upon thy mouth
And Lethe flows full-fountained in thy kiss.

To this my doom, a prisoner innocent,
The docile, destined martyr of desire,
I yield, and all my ardor fans the fire
And wrath of my undying punishment.

I will drink, to drown my rancor ere it start,
Hemlock benign and balms of sleep and rest
From the keen, delightful nipples of thy breast
That never held, nor will ever hold, a heart.

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