Spleen: I am like the King of a Rainy Country | Charles Baudelaire, 1857


Alexandre Benois, The King walked in any weather, 1898

I am like the King of a Rainy Country,
Rich, but powerless; young, yet feeling wintry;
no longer flattered by the obsequious bow;
Bored by my dogs and by every other creature now,
Nothing brightens my day, not the Hunt, not falconry,
Not the dying people below my balcony.
My fool’s grotesque ballading
does not distract me from my malady.
Carved with fleur-de-lys, my bed is a tomb
while sequestered ladies who think every prince a bloom
hope by their impudent dress to make me their own;
they will never coax a mouse out of this young skeleton.
Shall we turn to those who claim they turn lead
to gold though they and we remain the living dead?
I bathe in the baths of blood the Romans brought us
back in the days of great power and purpose.
Even they cannot warm this dazed cadaver
slipping into the place where the salt has lost its savor.

Charles Baudelaire, Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil, 1857
tr. James McColley Eilers

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