The Venal Muse (La Muse Vénale)

Clark Ashton Smith

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

Muse of my heart, who lovest well the palace hall,
Wilt have, when boreal winds through January blow,
During the black ennui of evenings drowned with snow,
A brand or brazier for thy feet purpureal!

Wilt thou re-animate thy shoulders marble-cold
In the nocturnal rays that pierce the shuttered pane?
Feeling thy purse go dry, thy palace crumble, gain
From azure vaults of nigh the long-inviolate gold?

Thou needest, that thine evening bread be given still,
To swing among the choir the sacred thurible,
And sing Te Deums in most solemn unbelief;

Or, starveling mountebank, deploy thy loveliness
And laughter drenched with tears of all-unknown distress,
To charm the vulgar herd's ignoble spleen and grief.

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