Baudelaire : CONFESSION
Once and only once, gentle, amiable woman,
You held yourself against me with your
Polite arm. Before the dark background of my soul
That memory has not paled.
It was late : like a newly minted coin
The full moon spread its lustre.
The solemnity of the night flowed over sleeping
Paris, as softly as a stream.
Along the housefronts, under the open porticoes,
Cats passed furtively,
Their ears trained, at times accompanying
Us slowly, our gentle shadows.
All of a sudden our easy intimacy was ruptured :
As if drawn out into the pale luminescence
From that rich and sonorous instrument where
Only your radiant gaiety should sound,
From you, bright and joyous as the fanfare that
Shimmers in the morning light,
A plaintive note escaped, a bizarre note that seemed
To falter like a distempered child—
Like a pale, sombre, otherworldly invalid,
The dark secret of some poor family,
Consigned to live in a basement where
She will cause them no inordinate shame.
Poor angel, your braying note held a song :
“O that nothing down here is certain,
And no matter how it ornaments and fards itself
Human egotism will always show through ;
That it is a heavy task, being a beautiful woman—
It is the banal profession
Of a cold, maniacal dancer who learns to swoon
With a mechanical smile ;
That building upon hearts is a foolish thing, for
All things crack, love and beauty alike,
Until one day Oblivion tosses us in his sack
And we are rendered up to Eternity!”
I have thought many times of that enchanted moon,
That silence and that languor,
And that horrible confidence, given without words
In the confessional of the heart.
Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut. As a student at Goldsmiths College in London, he was taught poetry by Anthony Joseph and Jack Underwood, among others, and started to produce his own work. A close association with members of what became the Clinic arts and poetry collective lead to readings across London and to his first publication. Since moving to the United States, he has featured in numerous British and American journals and poetry reviews. In September, Mountain Tales Press will publish his first chapbook, entitled Afterworks.