Variation on a Theme By Paulus Silentarius


Those whom the mad dog bites, have cause
Though crazed with thirst to spurn the cup:
Mad eyes, mad grin and slavering jaws
As they look in, look up

I might have drowned myself, who knows,
Betrayed and sickened and cast off,
But from the black linn’s face there rose
Your faithless mask of love.

Now have I drowned myself in wine
And quite dissolved this heart away
And wait, false love, for that condign
Revenge for which I pray;

When parting from your lover’s side
You rise, and on his back he snores,
And naked through the house you glide
And press the well-oiled doors,

Raging with such a thirst as lust
Sated engenders on the flesh
And pour yourself a draught in trust
To quicken lust afresh;

Deep, as oblivion laps the dead,
Cool in its crystal gleams the grape,
And trembling you will bend your head
And your bruised lips will gape;

Then shall you shriek and spill the cup
Cold sweat shall trickle on your skin,
To see my drowned man’s face look up,
And meet his mad-dog grin.

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