Femmes damnées, by Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley, New York (1906)

My third selection from Crowley’s collection Rodin in Rime (1907) belongs to the second section “Sonnets and Quatorzains,” whose poems have all 14 lines. Its French title “Femmes damnées” (translating as ‘doomed women’) comes from two poems in Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, one of which (subtitled “Delphine et Hippolyte”) was banned by the French censorship between 1857 and 1949.

Here the poet sings the rapture of passion and never-ending desire, kissing throughout life and into death.


KISS me, O sister, kiss me down to death!
The purple of the passionate hour is flaked
With notes of gold: there swim desires unslaked,
Impossible raptures of expostulate breath.
The marble heaves with longing; hungereth
The mouth half-open for the unawaked
Mouth of the baby blossom, where there ached
Never till now the parched sweet song that saith:

“Ah! through the grace of languor and the glow
Of form steals sunset flaming on the snow!
Darkness shall follow as love wakeneth
In moonlight, and the flower, chaste love, now bloom
First in the bosom, after in the tomb—
Kiss me, O sister, kiss me down to death!”

Source: Rodin in Rime (1907), in The Collected Works of Aleister Crowley, Volume III (1907). See the digitisation of the original on David Moews’s home page.

Previously published on Agapeta, 2018/04/14.

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