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This poem is taken from PN Review 188, Volume 35 Number 6, July - August 2009.

The Voyage (after Baudelaire) Michael O'Neill
after Baudelaire

I

It begins with a child, engrossed by maps,
the globe answering his wish for adventure.
How huge the world seems under the lamp’s clear light.
How small a thing memory makes of it.

One morning we set out, our brains on fire,
hearts a blur of hurt and desire,
and off we go, borne by the waves,
infinite questers stuck on finite seas:

some glad to escape a disgraced nation,
others a dire upbringing, and a few,
star-gazers drowned in the eyes of a woman,
despotic Circe with her lustful scents.

Not to be changed into brutes, they get drunk
on space and light, and blood-red skies;
suns that burn and ice that bites
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