The Other Side of Rhyme 2

Welcome! It is the Other Side of Rhyme again. Today we explore a French poet and his poem about a strange and grotesque doctor, so put on comfortable shoes and please tread carefully with me into a strange and ominous poem…

from La Jeune Belgique 5 (1886)
by Iwan Gilkin

I am the doctor who dissects souls,
Bending my feverish brow over corruptions,
The vices, the sins, and the perversions,
Of primitive instinct and its infamous hunger.

On the marble, with stomachs open, men and women
Spread out, nastily, with their contortions,
The hidden ulcers of black passions.
I have fingered the sore secrets of tragedies.

Then, with both arms still tinged with scrofulous blood,
Poet, I have noted in my scrupulous verse,
All that my sharp eyes have seen in the shadows.

And if a subject is lacking for the dissecting knife,
I stretch out, in my turn, on the funereal slab,
Screaming, as I jab the scalpel into my heart.

Iwan Gilkin


And here is the Original poem in French for our French-literate readers (Which I am not, sadly)

from La Jeune Belgique 5 (1886)
by Iwan Gilkin

Je suis un médecin qui dissèque les âmes,
Penchant mon front fièvreux sur les corruptions,
Les vices, les péchés et les perversions
De l’instinct primitif en appétits infâmes.

Sur le marbre, le ventre ouvert, hommes et femmes
Etalent salement dans leurs contorsions
Les ulcères cachés des noires passions.
J’ai palpé les secrets douloureux des grands drames.

Puis, les deux bras encor teints d’un sang scrofuleux,
Poète, j’ai noté dans mes vers scrupuleux
Ce que mes yeux aigus ont vu dans ces ténèbres.

Et s’il manque un sujet au couteau disséqueur,
Je m’étends à mon tour sur les dalles funèbres
Et j’enfonce en criant le scapel dans mon coeur.

by Iwan Gilkin