Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE VIAL, by CHARLES BAUDELAIRE



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THE VIAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There are potent perfumes to which nothing / is impervious
Last Line: Gnawing me away, o life and death of my heart!
Subject(s): Death; Perfume; Dead, The


There are potent perfumes to which nothing
Is impervious. They penetrate glass, it is said.
Opening a little coffer come from the East,
Its lock creaking and groaning reluctant,

Or some dark dusty cupboard in a derelict house
Suffused with the acrid aroma of time,
Sometimes one finds an old reminiscent vial
From which surges vibrant a spirit returned.

Darkling chrysalids, a thousand thoughts slumbered,
Soft in the dismal shadows throbbing,
Which loosen their wings now soaring aloft,
Azure-tinged, glazen rose, dappled with gold.

Intoxicating remembrances flutter
In that disquieted air; the eyes close; vertigo
Seizes the soul overcome and thrusts it with two hands
Toward a chasm dim with human miasma,

Pitching it to the brink of a centenary pit,
Where, scented Lazarus breaking through its shroud,
There stirs in its waking the spectral cadaver
Of an old moldering love, enticing and entombed.

Thus when I am lost to the memory of men,
When to the corner of some grim cupboard
I am tossed, old devastated vial,
Decrepit, dirty, dusty, abject, viscous, cracked,

I shall be your coffin, amiable pestilence!
Witness of your virulence and power,
Dear poison by the angels compounded, potion
Gnawing me away, O life and death of my heart!





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