Thursday, March 18, 2021

Poemquotes 19: Three from Baudelaire from "Spleen and Ideal"

(my translations)
XX. Le masque
[20. The Mask]

Allegorical statue in the style of the Renaissance

                          To Ernest Christophe, sculptor of statues.

Let us contemplate this treasure of Florentine graces;
In the undulation of this muscular body
Elegance and Strength abound, divine sisters.
This woman, truly miraculous example,
Divinely robust, adorably slender,
Is made to be enthroned upon sumptuous beds,
And charm the leisures of a pontiff or a prince.

— In addition, see that fine and voluptuous smile
Where Self-Conceit promenades its ecstasy;
That long, sly look, languorous and mocking;
That dainty visage, wholly framed in gauze,
Whose every feature tells us with a triumphant air:
"Exquisite Pleasure calls me and Love crowns me!"
To that being endowed with so much majesty
See what sort of exciting charm prettiness lends!
Let us approach, and circle 'round its beauty.

O blasphemy of art! o fatal surprise!
The woman with the body divine, promising happiness
Ends at the top in a bicephalous monster!

But no! it is but a mask, a suborning ornament,
This face lit by an exquisite grimace,
And, look, here it is, atrociously shriveled,
The real true head, and the sincere countenance
Reversed, sheltered by the lying countenance.
Poor great beauty! the magnificent river
Of your tears flows into my anguished heart;
Your lie intoxicates me, and my soul quenches itself
With the swells that Suffering makes gush from your eyes!

— But why does she weep? She, perfect beauty
Who could put at her feet the conquered human genus,
What mysterious ill gnaws at her athletic flank?

— She weeps, madman, because she has lived!
And because she lives! But what she deplores
Most especially, what makes her shudder down to her knees
Is that, tomorrow, alas! she still must go on living!
Tomorrow, the day-after-tomorrow, and always! — like us!


 XXII. Parfum exotique
[22. Exotic Perfume]

When, my two eyes shut, in a warm autumn night,
I inhale the odor of your warm breast,
I see happy shores roll out
Which shine the lights of a monotonous sun;

A lazy isle to which nature lends
Singular trees and savory fruits;
Men the individual bodies of which are slender and vigorous,
And women whose individual eyes shine in stunning candor.

Guided by your odor towards charming climates,
I see a port filled with sails and rigging
Still-ugh, totally wearied by the vague marine,

While the perfume of tamarinds green
That spins through the air and puffs out my nostrils,
Mingles in my soul with sea-shanties. 



One night I was next to a ghastly Jewess,
Like a cadaver sprawled alongside a cadaver,
I took to musing next to this bargained body
Upon the sad beauty of which my desire is deprived.

I pictured her native majesty,
Her gaze of vigor and endowed graces,
Her hair forming a perfumed casque,
And whose memory for love awakens.

For I'd have kissed with fervor your noble body,
And from your cool feet to your black tresses;
Would have spread out the treasure of profound caresses,

If, some evening, of a single tear effortlessly obtained
You were solely able, o queen of the cruel!
To soften the splendor of your cold pupils.


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