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Guiding Lights

Garden of Sloth, Lethe s fountainhead,
pillow of flesh where no dream is of love
but where life seethes and surges endlessly
like wind in heaven, sea within the sea;
A mirror somber in its distances
where charming angles with a mysterious
gentle smile appear beneath the shade
of pines and glaciers which enclose their realm;
Sorry hospital echoing with sights,
adorned b one enormous crucifix,
where tearful prayers rise from excrement
and a sudden ray of winter sunlight falls;
No man s land where every Hercules
becomes a Christ, where mighty phantoms rise
bolt upright from their graves and in the gloom
rend their shrouds by reaching out their hands;
Faun s impudence and a prize-fighter s rage,
jaundiced and weak, your great heart gorged with
that you could find the beauty in their crimes-pride
you, the convicts melancholy emperor;
Festivities where many famous hearts
flutter like months as they go up in flame,
the chandeliers in this enchanted glade
cast a madness on the minuet;
Nightmare crammed with unfathomable things,
which roasting foetuses in a pan,
crones at a mirror served by naked girls
who straighten stockings to entice the Fiend;
Evil angles haunt this lake of blood
darkened b the green shade of the firs,
where under a stricken sky the trumpet-calls
like a fanfare by Weber fade away. . .
These blasphemies these ecstasies these cries,
these groans and curses, tears and Te Deums,
re-echo though a thousand labyrinths –
a holy opium for mortal hearts!
A thousand sentries pass the order on,
a cry repeated by a thousand messengers;
hunters shout it, lost in the deep woods;
the beacon flares on a thousand citadels!
This, O Lord, is the best evidence
that we can offer our dignity,
this sob that swells from age to age and dies
out on the shore of Your eternity!

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Wiersz Guiding Lights - Charles Baudelaire