Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Race of Cain

Valentine Cameron Prinsep: A Venetian Gaming House in the Sixteenth Century

(Charles Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil - Abel and Cain)
(Translation - Roy Campbell)

Race of Abel! eat, sleep, drink. 
God smiles on those that he prefers. 
Race of Cain!in swamps that stink, 
Crawl, and die the death of curs. 
Race of Abel! your crops sprout, 
And your flocks are safe and sound. 
Race of Cain! your guts howl out 
In hunger, like an ancient hound. 
Race of Abel! warm your guts 
At the patriarchal fire. 
Race of Cain! in caves and huts 
Shiver like jackals in the mire. 
Race of Abel! Pullulate : 
Your gold too procreates its kind. 
Race of Cain! Hearts hot with hate, 
Leave all such appetites behind. 
Race of Abel! grow and graze, 
Like woodlice that on timbers prey. 
Race of Cain! along rough ways 
Lead forth your family at bay.

Ah! Race of Abel! your fat carrion 
Will well manure the soil it presses. 
Race of Cain! One task to carry on 
Remains for you, a task that presses. 
Race of Abel! Shame is nigh. 
The coulter's beaten by the sword. 
Race of Cain, climb up the sky, 
And to the earth hurl down the Lord.