Poetry Forum Areas

Introduce Yourself

New to PoetrySoup? Introduce yourself here. Tell us something about yourself.

Looking for a Poem

Can't find a poem you've read before? Looking for a poem for a special person or an occasion? Ask other member for help.

Writing Poetry

Ways to improve your poetry. Post your techniques, tips, and creative ideas how to write better.

High Critique

For poets who want unrestricted constructive criticism. This is NOT a vanity workshop. If you do not want your poem seriously critiqued, do not post here. Constructive criticism only. PLEASE Only Post One Poem a Day!!!

How do I...?

Ask PoetrySoup Members how to do something or find something on PoetrySoup.



You have an ad blocker! We understand, but...

PoetrySoup is a small privately owned website. Our means of support comes from advertising revenue. We want to keep PoetrySoup alive, make it better, and keep it free. Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on PoetrySoup. See how to enable ads while keeping your ad blocker active. Also, did you know you can become a PoetrySoup Lifetime Premium Member and block ads forever...while getting many more great features. Take a look! Thank you!
Get Your Premium Membership


THE DANCE OF DEATH

by
 CARRYING bouquet, and handkerchief, and gloves, 
Proud of her height as when she lived, she moves 
With all the careless and high-stepping grace, 
And the extravagant courtesan's thin face.
Was slimmer waist e'er in a ball-room wooed? Her floating robe, in royal amplitude, Falls in deep folds around a dry foot, shod With a bright flower-like shoe that gems the sod.
The swarms that hum about her collar-bones As the lascivious streams caress the stones, Conceal from every scornful jest that flies, Her gloomy beauty; and her fathomless eyes Are made of shade and void; with flowery sprays Her skull is wreathed artistically, and sways, Feeble and weak, on her frail vertebrae.
O charm of nothing decked in folly! they Who laugh and name you a Caricature, They see not, they whom flesh and blood allure, The nameless grace of every bleached, bare bone, That is most dear to me, tall skeleton! Come you to trouble with your potent sneer The feast of Life! or are you driven here, To Pleasure's Sabbath, by dead lusts that stir And goad your moving corpse on with a spur? Or do you hope, when sing the violins, And the pale candle-flame lights up our sins, To drive some mocking nightmare far apart, And cool the flame hell lighted in your heart? Fathomless well of fault and foolishness! Eternal alembic of antique distress! Still o'er the curved, white trellis of your sides The sateless, wandering serpent curls and glides.
And truth to tell, I fear lest you should find, Among us here, no lover to your mind; Which of these hearts beat for the smile you gave? The charms of horror please none but the brave.
Your eyes' black gulf, where awful broodings stir, Brings giddiness; the prudent reveller Sees, while a horror grips him from beneath, The eternal smile of thirty-two white teeth.
For he who has not folded in his arms A skeleton, nor fed on graveyard charms, Recks not of furbelow, or paint, or scent, When Horror comes the way that Beauty went.
O irresistible, with fleshless face, Say to these dancers in their dazzled race: "Proud lovers with the paint above your bones, Ye shall taste death, musk scented skeletons! Withered Antino?s, dandies with plump faces, Ye varnished cadavers, and grey Lovelaces, Ye go to lands unknown and void of breath, Drawn by the rumour of the Dance of Death.
From Seine's cold quays to Ganges' burning stream, The mortal troupes dance onward in a dream; They do not see, within the opened sky, The Angel's sinister trumpet raised on high.
In every clime and under every sun, Death laughs at ye, mad mortals, as ye run; And oft perfumes herself with myrrh, like ye And mingles with your madness, irony!"

Poem by
Biography | Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes | Email Poem - THE DANCE OF DEATHEmail Poem | Create an image from this poem

Poems are below...


Top Charles Baudelaire Poems

Analysis and Comments on THE DANCE OF DEATH

Provide your analysis, explanation, meaning, interpretation, and comments on the poem THE DANCE OF DEATH here.