Distress

I don’t come to conquer your flesh tonight, O beast
In whom are the sins of the race, nor to stir
In your foul tresses a mournful tempest
Beneath the fatal boredom my kisses pour:

A heavy sleep without those dreams that creep
Under curtains alien to remorse, I ask of your bed,
Sleep you can savour after your dark deceits,
You who know more of Nothingness than the dead.

For Vice, gnawing this inborn nobleness of mine
Marked me, like you, with its sterility,
But shroud-haunted, pale, destroyed, I flee

While that heart no tooth of any crime
Can wound lives in your breast of stone,
Frightened of dying while I sleep alone.

by Stéphane Mallarmé

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