The Litanies of Satan

O thou, of all the Angels loveliest and most learned,
To whom no praise is chanted and no incense burned,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

O Prince of exile, god betrayed by foulest wrong,
Thou that in vain art vanquished, rising up more strong,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

O thou who knowest all, each weak and shameful thing,
Kind minister to man in anguish, mighty king,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou that dost teach the leper, the pariah we despise,
To love like other men, and taste sweet Paradise,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

O thou, that in the womb of Death, thy fecund mate,
Engenderest Hope, with her sweet eyes and her mad gait,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou who upon the scaffold dost give that calm and proud
Demeanor to the felon, which condemns the crowd,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou that hast seen in darkness and canst bring to light
The gems a jealous God has hidden from our sight,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou to whom all the secret arsenals are known
Where iron, where gold and silver, slumber, locked in stone,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou whose broad hand dost hide the precipice from him
Who, barefoot, in his sleep, walks on the building's rim,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

O thou who makest supple between the horses' feet
The old bones of the drunkard fallen in the street,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou who best taught the frail and over-burdened mind
How easily saltpeter and sulphur are combined,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Thou that hast burned thy brand beyond all help secure,
Into the rich man's brow, who tramples on the poor,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

O thou, who makest gentle the eyes and hearts of whores
With kindness for the wretched, homage for rags and sores,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Staff of the exile, lamp of the inventor, last
Priest of the man about whose neck the rope is passed,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

O thou, adopted father of those fatherless
Whom God from Eden thrust in terror and nakedness,

Satan, have pity upon me in my deep distress!

Prayer


Glory and praise to thee, Satan, in the most high,
Where thou didst reign; and in deep hell's obscurity,
Where, manacled, thou broodest long! O silent power,
Grant that my soul be near to thee in thy great hour,
When, like a living Temple, victorious bough on bough,
Shall rise the Tree of Knowledge, whose roots are in thy brow!


— Charles Baudelaire


Translation by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1936.

Tags: Satan, knowledge, poem, poetry, profligates

Views: 45

Replies to This Discussion

A new one to me and I like it a lot. I sense a touch of Blake (Marriage of Heaven and Hell) and Shelley (Prometheus Unbound) but a lot that is unique. I resolve to read more Baudelaire! 

Thanks very much for posting, Dallas.

Your welcome. Baudelaire is not my favorite, but since I've only read translations from the original French, and since these vary a lot in style, it is hard to judge his style directly. Another favorite of his is "The Vampire," which I have posted in this group already. 

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