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The Obscene and Banned Poetry of Charles Baudelaire

Sex, blood and death can be found in the twisted works of poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) and while some found these poems captivating, others felt that they were positively obscene. In the 1857 original edition of Flowers of Evil, the influential poet wrote two poems, “The Vampire” and “Metamorphoses of the Vampire.” These vampire poems were so naughty that both poems were banned and Baudelaire was convicted on obscenity charges. These two poems describe female sexuality in terms of vampirism, rot, and prostitution. His imagery had a huge influence on the development of the femme fatale in the late 19th-century.

nadar-baudelaire-1855 The following is a translation of “Metamorphoses of the Vampire” by another amazing poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Meanwhile from her red mouth the woman, in husky tones,
Twisting her body like a serpent upon hot stones
And straining her white breasts from their imprisonment,
Let fall these words, as potent as a heavy scent:
“My lips are moist and yielding, and I know the way
To keep the antique demon of remorse at bay.
All sorrows die upon my bosom. I can make
Old men laugh happily as children for make.
For him who sees me naked in my tresses, I
Replace the sun, the moon, and all the stars of the sky!
Believe me, learned sir, I am so deeply skilled
That when I wind a lover in my soft arms, and yield
My breasts like two ripe fruits for his devouring — both
Shy and voluptuous, insatiable and loath —
Upon this bed that groans and sighs luxuriously
Even the impotent angels would be damned for me!”

When she had drained me of my very marrow, and cold
And weak, I turned to give her one more kiss — behold,
There at my side was nothing but a hideous
Putrescent thing, ail faceless and exuding pus.
I closed my eyes and mercifully swooned till day:

And when I looked at morning for that beast of prey
Who seemed to have replenished her arteries from my own,
The wan, disjointed fragments of a skeleton
Wagged up and down in a lewd posture where she had lain,
Rattling with each convulsion like a weathervane
Or an old sign that creaks upon its bracket, right
Mournfully in the wind upon a winter’s night.

Your thoughts?

– Moonlight

Charles BaudelaireEdna St. Vincent MillayMetamorphoses of the Vampirethe vampirevampire poemvampire poetry

Moonlight • March 6, 2013


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Comments

  1. Vampire Syndrome March 6, 2013 - 8:51 pm Reply

    Thank you for posting that beautiful Edna St. Vincent Millay poem!

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