A Carrion By Charles Baudelaire Translated By — Geoffrey Wagner, Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire (NY: Grove Press, 1974)

A Carrion

Do you remember the thing we saw, my soul,
That summer morning, so beautiful, so soft:
At a turning in the path, a filthy carrion,
On a bed sown with stones,

Legs in the air, like a lascivious woman,
Burning and sweating poisons,
Opened carelessly, cynically,
Its great fetid belly.

The sun shone on this fester,
As though to cook it to a turn,
And to return a hundredfold to great Nature
What she had joined in one;

And the sky saw the superb carcass
Open like a flower.
The stench was so strong, that you might think
To swoon away upon the grass.

The flies swarmed on that rotten belly,
Whence came out black battalions
Of spawn, flowing like a thick liquid
Along its living tatters.

All this rose and fell like a wave,
Or rustled in jerks;
One would have said that the body, fun of a loose breath,
Lived in this its procreation.

And this world gave out a strange music,
Like flowing water and wind,
Or a winnower’s grain that he shakes and turns
With rhythmical grace in his basket.

The forms fade and are no more than a dream,
A sketch slow to come
On the forgotten canvas, and that the artist completes
Only by memory.

Behind the boulders an anxious bitch
Watched us with angry eyes,
Spying the moment to regain in the skeleton
The morsel she had dropped.

— And yet you will be like this excrement,
This horrible stench,
O star of my eyes, sun of my being,
You, my angel, my passion.

Yes, such you will be, queen of gracefulness,
After the last sacraments,
When you go beneath the grasses and fat flowers,
Moldering amongst the bones.

Then, my beauty, say to the vermin
Which will eat you with kisses,
That I have kept the shape and the divine substance
Of my decomposed loves!

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