Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Poemquotes 18 - Three by Baudelaire from "Spleen and Ideal"

my translations


XIV. L'homme et la mer - Les fleurs du mal
[XIV. Man and the Sea] [The Flowers of Evil]

Free man, always will you cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite unfurling of its swell,
And your mind is not a less bitter gulf.

You like to plunge into the bosom of your image;
You embrace it with eyes and arms, and your heart
Is sometimes distracted from its own rumble
By the sound of this untamable and savage groan.

Both of you are gloomy and reserved:
Man, not one has sounded the depth of your fathoms,
O sea, not one knows of your intimate riches,
So jealous are you in keeping your secrets!

And yet here though are centuries innumerable
In which you've battled one another without pity or remorse,
So much do you love carnage and death,
O eternal fighters, o implacable brothers!


XV. Don Juan aux Enfers - Les fleurs du mal
[XV. Don Juan in Hades] [The Flowers of Evil]

When Don Juan descended toward the underground flow
And when he came to give his pittance to Charon,
A somber mendicant, his eye proud as Antisthenes,
With arm vengeful and strong seized each oar.

Showing their pendulous breasts and their open robes,
Women twisted beneath the black firmament,
And, like a great gaggle of sacrificial victims,
Trailed a long lowing behind.

Sganarelle, laughing, demanded his pay,
While Don Luis with one trembling finger
Showed all the wandering dead on the banks
The audacious son who mocked his white brow.

Shivering from her bereavement, chaste and thin Elvira,
Near the deceitful spouse who had been her lover,
Seemed to demand of him a final smile
In which shone the sweetness of his initial oath.

Upright in his armor, a great stone man
Held himself at the helm and chopped the black swell;
But the calm hero, bent over his rapier,
Regarded the wake and deigned to see nothing.


XVI. Châtiment de l'orgueil - Les fleurs du mal
[XVI. Penalty for Pride] [The Flowers of Evil]

In these wonderful times in which Theology
Blossoms with the most lifeblood and energy
We recount that, one day, one of the greatest doctors
— After having pried open indifferent hearts;
Having stirred them in their dark depths;
After having crossed toward the celestial glories
Of singular paths to himself unknown,
Where the pure Minds alone perhaps had come, —
Like a man who has clambered too high, stricken by panic,
Yelled out, transported by a satanic pride:
"Jesus, little Jesus! I've raised you up so high!
But, if I'd wanted to attack you in the absence
Of armor, your shame would equal your glory,
And you would no longer be more than a piddling fetus!"

Immediately his reason took leave.
The radiance of that sun was veiled beneath a crepe of mourning;
All chaos rolled within that intelligence,
Temple once alive, filled with order and opulence,
Beneath the ceilings of which so much pomp had glistened.
Silence and night took up inside him,
As in a subterranean vault whose key has been lost.
From that moment he was indistinguishable from the animals in the street,
And, when he vanished without having seen a thing, across
The fields, without telling apart summers from winters,
Filthy, useless, and ugly as a worn out thing,
He became the enjoyment and the laughing-stock of the children.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.