Hymn to Beauty (Hymne a la Beaute)

Do you come from the heavens or from the abyss,
O Beauty? Your gaze both accursed and divine,
Pours a confusion of virtue and vice,
And for this we devoutly compare you to wine.

You contain in your eyes the sunset and dawn;
You scatter perfume like a nocturnal gale;
Your kisses a potion, your mouth a cauldron;
Which weakens the hearty and ruddies the pale.

Do you rise from the chasm or fall from the stars?
Fate, bewitched, sniffs at your skirts like a hound.
Indifferently doling out kisses and scars,
You govern all things without gesture or sound.

You trod on the dead with disdain, O Beauty!
Yes, Horror is not your least prized bagatelle.
And Murder, your plaything, capricous and broody,
Trots out on your belly a coy tarantelle.

Your candle enchanted the moth to his death
Well he crackled and burned, but the flame he forgave.
The lover collapsing and gasping for breath
Looks to me like a dying man fondling his grave.

Who cares where you come from–heaven or hell?
O Beauty! You monster, macabre and naive
If your eyes, or your glance, or your kick is the spell
To crack open the infinite–when can we leave?

Sent by God or the Devil, are you Siren or Spirit?
What does it matter? You soft-eyed ondine!
Without rhythm and light, and perfume, I might fear it,
But you make life worth living, my singular queen!


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