Apollo, who mourned at Hyacinthe’s demise,
Refused to concede this victory to Death.
Much better that the soul, adept in transformation,
Had to find a holy alchemy for beauty.
Thus with his celestial hand he drained and crushed
The subtlest harvest of the garden goddess,
The broken bodies of the herbs yielding a golden essence
From which we measure out our first drop – of Absinthe!
In lowly hovels and in glittering courts,
Alone, in pairs, drink up this potion of desire!
For it is sorcery – as one might say –
When the pale opal wine ends all misery,
Opens beauty’s most intimate sanctuary –
– Bewitches my heart, and exalts my soul in ecstasy!
(English translation of “La Legende de l’Absinthe,” the French sonnet quoted in full in “Absinthe: The Green Goddess” by Aleister Crowley)
Image © “From Hell” movie (2001)