To a Madonna
Ex-Voto in the Spanish Style
Madonna, mistress, I shall build for you
An alter of my misery, and hew
Out of my heartís remote and midnight pitch,
Far from all worldly lusts and sneers, a niche
Enamelled totally in gold and blue
Where I shall set you up, and worship you.
And of my verse, like hammered silver lace
Studded with amethysts of rhyme, Iíll place
A hand-wrought crown upon your head, and Iíll
Make you a coat in the barbaric style,
Picked out in seedling tears instead of pearl,
That you shall wear like mail, my mortal girl,
Lined with suspicion, made of jealousy,
Encasing all your charms that none may see.
As for the intimate part of your attire,
Your dress shall be composed of my desire,
Rising and falling, swirling from your knees
To your round hills, and deep declivities.
Of the respect I owe you I shall make
A pair of satin shoes that they may take-
Though most unworthily prepared to do it-
The authentic shape and imprint of your foot.
And if I fail, for all my proffered boon,
to make a silver footstool of the moon,
Victorious queen, I place beneath your heel
The head of this black serpent that I feel
Gnawing at my insides all the time,
Swollen with hate and venomous with crime.
You shall behold my thoughts like tapers lit
Before your flowered shrine, and brightening it,
Reflected in the semi-domeís clear skies
Like so many fierce stars or fiery eyes.
And I shall be as myrrh and frankincense
Rising forever in a smoky trance,
And the dark cloud of my tormented hopes
Shall lift in yearning toward your snowy slopes.
And finally, to render you more real,
I shall make seven blades of Spanish steel
Out of the Seven Deadly Sins, and I
Shall mix my love with murderous savagery,
And like a circus knife-thrower, Iíll aim
At the pure center of your gentle frame,
And plunge those blades into your beating heart,
Your bleeding, suffering, palpitating heart.
-Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal
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