‘Deserve death with all your appetites, your selfishness, and all the capital sins!”

A Season in Hell

A while back, if I remember right,
my life was one long party
where all hearts were open wide,
where all wines kept flowing.

One night, I sat Beauty down on my lap.
—And I found her galling.
—And I roughed her up.
I armed myself against justice.

I ran away. O witches, O misery, O hatred,
my treasure’s been turned over to you!
I managed to make every trace of human hope
vanish from my mind.
I pounced on every joy
like a ferocious animal eager to strangle it.

I called for executioners
so that, while dying,
I could bite the butts of their rifles.
I called for plagues to choke me
with sand, with blood.

Bad luck was my god.
I stretched out in the muck.
I dried myself in the air of crime.
And played tricks on insanity.
And Spring brought me
the frightening laugh of the idiot.

So, just recently, when I found myself
on the brink of the final squawk!
it dawned on me to look again
for the key to that ancient party
where I might find my appetite once more.
Charity is that key.
—This inspiration proves I was dreaming!

“You’ll always be a hyena etc… ,” yells the devil,
who’d crowned me with such pretty poppies.
“Deserve death with all your appetites,
your selfishness, and all the capital sins!”

Ah! I’ve been through too much:
—But, sweet Satan, I beg of you,
a less blazing eye! and while waiting for
the new little cowardly gestures yet to come,
since you like an absence of descriptive
or didactic skills in a writer,
let me rip out these few ghastly pages
from my notebook of the damned.

~ Rimbaud

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