Beacons
by Charles Baudelaire

Rubens, river of forgetfulness, garden of idleness,
Pillow of cool flesh where one cannot love,
But where life abounds and writhes ceaselessly,
Like air in the sky and the sea in the sea;

Leonardo da Vinci, deep and dark mirror,
Where charming angels, with a sweet smile
Charged wth mystery, appear under the shadow
Of glaciers and pines which shut in their country;

Rembrandt, sad hospital filled with murmurings,
And decorated only with a large crucifix,
Where tearful prayers are exhaled from excrement
And abruptly crossed by a winter ray;

Michelangelo, vague place where are seen Hercules
Mingling with Christs, and rising upright
Powerful phantoms which at twilight
Rip open their shrouds when they stretch their fingers;

Anger of the wrestler, impudence of the faun,
You who collected the beauty of soldiers,
Noble heart swollen with pride, weak jaundiced man,
Puget, melancholy emperor of convicts;

Watteau, that carnival where many illustrious hearts,
Like moths, wander as flames catch them,
Fresh, light decors illuminated by chandeliers
Which pour madness over the turning dance;

Goya, nightmare filled with unknown things,
With foetuses which are cooked in the midst of a witch's

feast,
Of old women at a mirror and naked girls
Adjusting their stockings to tempt the demons;

Delacroix, lake of blood haunted by evil angels,
Under the shadow of a green forest of firs,
Where, under a gloomy sky, strange fanfares
Pass, like a muffled sigh of Weber;

These curses, blasphemies, complaints,
These ecstasies, cries, tears, these Te Deums,
Are an echo repeated by a thousand labyrinths;
They are for the hearts of men a divine opium!

It is a cry repeated by a thousand sentinels,
An order returned by a thousand loud-speakers;
It is a beacon lighted on a thousand citadels,
A call of hunters lost in the deep woods!

For it is in truth, O Lord, the best testimonial
We can give of our dignity --
This ardent sobbing which rolls from age to age
And comes to die at the edge of your eternity!

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