Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday's Poetry: The Vampire

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Le Vampire by French poet Charles Baudelaire was first published in his collection, Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil), more than a century-and-a-half ago.  There are several good English translations of this work available on the Internet.   The one that follows is by Roy Campbell from his 1952 work entitled Poems of Baudelaire.

I sought out a poem on vampires as a tribute to Tim Burton's Dark Shadows which opens on Okinawa next Sunday.  Being an enormous fan of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Dark Shadows itself, I am truly psyched about this movie and will be munching popcorn at one of the earliest showings.

I was surprised to learn that there are several "classic" vampire poems lurking in cyberspace.   I was searching for one whose primary bloodsucker was male, out of respect to Barnabas Collins, but was unable to find one that I liked.  Le Vampire in its many translations impressed me as being the best of the lot - even if the fiend was a female.

Turn up your collar and enjoy this fine poem by Baudelaire.

The Vampire
Charles Baudelaire
     (as translated by Roy Campbell)

You, who like a dagger ploughed
Into my heart with deadly thrill:
You who, stronger than a crowd
Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill,

Of my dejected soul have made
Your bed, your lodging, and domain:
To whom I'm linked (Unseemly jade!)
As is a convict to his chain,

Or as the gamester to his dice,
Or as the drunkard to his dram,
Or as the carrion to its lice —
I curse you. Would my curse could damn!

I have besought the sudden blade
To win for me my freedom back.
Perfidious poison I have prayed
To help my cowardice. Alack!

Both poison and the sword disdained
My cowardice, and seemed to say
"You are not fit to be unchained
From your damned servitude. Away,

You imbecile! since if from her empire
We were to liberate the slave,
You'd raise the carrion of your vampire,
By your own kisses, from the grave."

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