Songs of Liberation and Wine

Songs of Liberation and Wine


Speak not of my diamond eyes,

Of my velvet-lined mouth

Dripping with lush nectar.

You sharpened my fangs with your knife—

And then shut my mouth.

Take not my hand,

Dragging me into your metropolitan dream

Which smells of the coal you picked from my barren stomach.

I can hear nought 

But the beating of our heart.

O rose so aromatic, rose as red as the blood coursing through the veins of this land 

Of which I have but heard!

I can see the shadows whom you immure in this mansion,

—Offenbach quadrilles, pungent eau de toilette, thousands

Of insipid Gautier poems, the sight of which I can no longer stand!—

Where I kneel by your paint-brush and your guillotine.

They are both killing me.

I can write for you no longer

Lest I be sacrificed to your hands so weary

(These hands crying out with the wrenching pain of my ancestors! of your progeny).

For decades I repeated to myself at night:

I write for that which is. I write of that which is.

And yet I write for you,

Of you.

My dreams are filled with the romantic past you bequeathed to me,

Wrapped in a scarf knitted from this accursed silk so luscious, 

Born from my ardent, tempered skin.

Yes, I scorn these reveries!—they are your throne, your crown, 

Your scepter.

That I could cease to breathe yet continue to live!

Perhaps then, finally, I could suffer liberation, this evasive malady.

O wondrous, cruel rose!

I cannot smell your enchanting aroma,

For your freeing beauty constrains my senses.

In a drunken delirium—

I cannot escape

Or remember

This prison

You gifted to me,

This prison which recalls, as it inhales and exhales in the butter-scented winter air, the ravishing splendors of ancient Baghdad and Timbuktu.

I can discern something.

These dark shadows haunt me;

Yet I cling to them,

For they haunt you too, in their

Prosaic drama.

Yes; I cling to them! I let them dance 

And sing their songs!

—Liberation! come to me, for I miss the smell of your clothes in my home!

—Wine! free me in your swirling dance of beauty; take me to your hell so that I know I can waltz once

more in your embrace!—scarring my back, polishing my cheeks.

I stole your petals;

In them I dressed my children.

But now I would have them returned—

My infants in their naked elegance, ensconced in your


O rose!

You are forever tied

To these wretches whom you enslaved!

Inextricably bound, I yearn for the moon:

Come; put an end to this

Unremitting ball.