Et d'autres, dont la gorge aime les scapulaires,

Qui, recélant un fouet sous leurs longs vêtements,

Mêlent, dans le bois sombre et les nuits solitaires,

L'écume du plaisir aux larmes des tourments.

In english:

And others, whose breasts love the feel of scapulars,

Who, concealing a whip under their long habits,

Mingle, in the dark woods and solitary nights,

The froth of pleasure with tears of torment.

I can understand the last 2 verses, but I don't understand the first 2. Are these women in some kind of cult? Are they sadomasochistic nuns? Is it symbolical?

Could anyone explain this to me?

  • 1
    Didn't some religious people use to scourge themselves? See flagellants. And sado-masochism is clearly being referenced. – Peter Shor Oct 8 '17 at 18:14
  • Baudelaire has two poems with this title--Femmes damnées and Femmes Damnées (Delphine et Hippolyte). The second poem should shed some light on possible meanings of the first poem. – DukeZhou Oct 12 '17 at 18:41
  • Short answer might be that Delphine et Hippolyte deals with "forbidden love" (lesbianism), and forbidden love is a special kind of torment. Love has religious connotations, and the religious symbolism--nuns, scapulars, self-flagellation--are likely being used to reinforce the idea of torment. – DukeZhou Oct 12 '17 at 18:58

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