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Tuesday 7 January 2014

3 Translations from Baudelaire- Peter O' Neill

XXX – De Profundis Clamavi

I implore your pity, You, the unique one whom I love,
From the obscure hole where my heart has collapsed
Into a mournful universe where I have been submerged
And where swim the night of horror and blasphemy;

O sun without heat hovering above for half the year,
And for the other six months when night covers the earth;
It’s a country more naked then the North Pole;
-Without beasts, streams, greenery or woods!

For there is no horror in the world which surpasses
The glacial cruelty of this sun of ice,
And this immense night which echoes the primeval chaos.

Ah! Jealousy is the very vilest kind of animal,
Which can send one careering into the most stupid funk,
There where the scaffolds of time slowly part, and divide.

XXXI.  The Vampire

You who, like a fine stiletto,  
Pierced my plaintive heart;
Strong like a horde of demons,
You who, with wine and madness conjoined,

Made your domain and bed
Of my humiliated spirit –
Infamy, to you I am now wedded
Like a convict to a chain,

Like the last hand of a poker player,
Like the bottle to the drunk,
Or, worms to a corpse,
-         A similar kind of Evil you, to me, are.

I prayed for the rapid glaive
To conquer my freedom,
And I sought council in perfidious poisons
To bolster my cowardice.

Alas! Poison and the glaive
Held me in disdain before saying to me:
“ Eejit! – You are not worthy
To be taken by us from your atrocious slavery,

Far from its empire,
For if our efforts were to deliver you
Your kisses would only resuscitate
The corpse of the vampire which consumes you.”


One night as I found myself lying beside an atrocious Jewess,
Like lying beside the most exquisite cadaver,
And I started to fantasise over her hired limbs,
Her sad beauty, and which my desire held momentarily, hostage.

Let me attempt to evoke her native majesty,
Her vigorous look and her armed grace,
Beneath her hair worn like a perfumed helmet,
And which the memory of love revives.

I feverishly wished to fuck her noble body,
From the tips of her feet right up to the black tresses on her head,
I imagined the rich treasure of her caresses.

If ever, one night, with a tear provoked without much effort,
You could only, oh Queen of delicious cruelty,
Obscure the splendour from your cold lips...

It took twenty five years for Peter O’ Neill (1967) to see his work in print, five of his poems first appearing in The Galway Review in December, 2012. Since then, he has had over 100 poems published. His debut collection Antiope appeared in February 2013, and to critical acclaim. ‘Certainly a voice to be reckoned with,’ wrote Dr. Brigitte Le JueZ (DCU). As well as having had some of his translations published -  including works by Baudelaire, Agusto  Dos Anjos and Virgil; original poems written by him in Italian and French have also appeared. He has been a regular contributor to A New Ulster, Danse Macabre and The Scum Gentry, and he is currently working on his seventh collection.

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