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I’m like the king of some rain swept terrain,
Rich but impotent, young yet ancient,
Detesting the fawning of his teachers,
Tired of his lap dogs and other creatures.
Nothing amuses him, hunting, falconry,
His people expiring in front of his balcony.
Even the jests of his favourite fool
Can't smooth the frown of this cruel recluse.
His petal-strewn bed has become a tomb,
And his handmaidens, made to make princes swoon,
Can't find outfits scandalous enough
To raise a flicker from his immaculate corpse.
The alchemist who transmutes gold from lead
Fails to draw from him that poisonous element.
And those baths of blood the Romans conceived,
To give decrepit tyrants some relief...
Can't even stir the veins in this lethargic flesh
In which the green sludge of Lethe runs instead.
Translated by Peter Jukes from Spleen by Charles Baudelaire