For the Book of Love by Jules Laforgue

I may be dead tomorrow, uncaressed.
My lips have never touched a woman’s, none
Has given me in a look her soul, not one
Has ever held me swooning at her breast.

I have but suffered, for all nature, trees
Whipped by the winds, wan flowers, the ashen sky,
Suffered with all my nerves, minutely, I
Have suffered for my soul’s impurities.

And I have spat on love, and, mad with pride,
Slaughtered my flesh, and life’s revenge I brave,
And, while the whole world else was Instinct’s slave,
With bitter laughter Instinct I defied.

In drawing-rooms, the theatre, the church,
Before cold men, the greatest, most refined,
And women with eyes jealous, proud, or kind,
Whose tender souls no lust would seem to smirch.

I thought: This is the end for which they work.
Beasts coupling with the groaning beasts they capture.
And all this dirt for just three minutes’ rapture!
Men, be correct! And women, purr and smirk!

From: http://www.blackcatpoems.com/l/for_the_book_of_love.html

Date: 1885 (original in French); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)

Translated by: Jethro Bithell (1878-1962)

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