AT the black foot of trellises, by almond-branches shaded,
At the heart of corbeils, at the breast of bowers,
And all along the loam of avenues,
Are fallen faded,
Of all smells, and of all hues,
Flowers and flowers.
Lascivious flowers, they all have died
Of loving without rest,
With the sun in rut upon their breast
That odours lubrified.
They have fallen, they have fallen dead
On earth's hard bed,
All the summertide,
Ripe with luxury, with kisses dried,
The bitter flesh of pinks, the irises' black sex,
And even lilies,
Above all lilies.
And from this dung that water fertilises,
From this decay that shadow decks,
Where pallid sunbeams scarce can come,
Marked with anathema arises
The pitiful chrysanthemum!
The pitiful chrysanthemum that blooms alone:
Her gray foot from putrition takes
Her nourishment, and from the bitter corpse of perfumes makes
That stinging, vicious odour of her own.
* * * * * *
Now, while the arbours in the garden shook,
The sensual virgin tore and took
Chrysanthemums that like the woods are weeping,
And, in their petals her thin fingers steeping
Her vice and fever crushed and kneaded them;
Her opal, onyx nails took every stem,
And split it, and the drownèd hearts she bruised;
Then she washed off her hands their blood that oozed,
And, while her young breasts swung, she held beneath
Her nostrils her wet fingers, clenched her teeth,
And fed her acrid instinct, with this rot
Arisen from dead autumn's prurient heat.
And, in love's rhythm that relenteth not,
Her nostrils beat and beat....