Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vintage Opium - 'The 'Vices of Venus'

WITH OPIUM, EUPHORIA leads the way to death. The tortures come from going against the current back toward life. A whole springtime drives the veins to madness, sweeping along ice and molten lava.

I advise the addict who has been deprived for eight days to bury his head in his arm, to glue his ear to that arm, and to wait. Upheavals, riots, factories exploding, armies retreating, flood - in the starry night of the human body, the ear bears witness to an entire apocalypse. more

.... Jean Cocteau. Detox diary

Le Poison

Wine clothes the sordid walls of hovels old
with pomp no palace knows,
evokes long peristyles in pillared rows
from vaporous red and gold;
like sunset with her cloud-built porticoes.

And opium widens all that has no bourn
in its unbounded sea;
moments grow hours, pleasures cease to be
in souls that, overworn,
drown in its black abyss of lethargy.

Dread poisons, but more dread the poisoned well
of thy green eyes accurst;
tarns where I watch my trembling soul, reversed
my dreams innumerable
throng to those bitter gulfs to slake their thirst.

Dread magic, but thy mouth more dread than these:
its wine and hellebore
burn, floods of Lethe, in my bosom's core,
till winds of madness seize
and dash me swooning on Death's barren shore!

Charles Baudelaire. The Flowers of Evil.

'..O just, subtle, and mighty opium! that to the hearts of poor and rich alike, for the wounds that will never heal, and for "the pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel," bringest and assuaging balm;
- eloquent opium! that with thy potent rhetoric stealest away the purposes of wrath, and, to the guilty man, for one night givest back the hopes of his youth, and hands washed pure from blood; and, to the proud man, a brief oblivion for

Wrongs unredressed, and insults unavenged;

that summonest to the chancery of dreams, for the triumphs of suffering innocence, false witnesses, and confoundest perjury, and dost reverse the sentences of unrighteous judges; thou buildest upon the bosom of darkness, out of the fantastic imagery of the brain, cities and temples, beyond the art of Phidias and Praxiteles, - beyond the splendour of Babylon and Hekatompylos; and, "from the anarchy of dreaming sleep," callest into sunny light the faces of long-buried beauties, and the blessed household countenances, cleansed from the "dishonours of the grave." Thou only givest these gifts to man; and thou hast the keys of Paradise, oh just, subtle, and mighty opium! ..'

Thomas de Quincey. Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

Vintage opium related posters & photographs from our collection. Click on pics above to view more.

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