Saturday, January 14, 2023

Poemquotes 23: From Baudelaire's "Spleen and Ideal"

(my translations)

Tout entière
[41. Completely, Wholly Her]

The Demon, in my lofty chamber,
Came to see me this morning,
And, trying to catch me in the act,
Says to me: "I should like to know,

Among all the beautiful things
Her enchantment of which is made,
Among the black or pink objects
That make up her charming body,

Which is the sweetest." — O my soul!
You replied to the Abhorred One:
"Since in Her everything is dittany,
Nothing can be preferred.

When everything ravishes me, I am unaware
Whether something is seducing me.
She dazzles like the Sunrise
And consoles like the Night;

And the harmony is too exquisite,
Which governs all her beautiful body,
For impotent analysis
While noting the numerous chords.

O mystical metamorphosis
Of all my senses melted into one!
Her breath makes music,
As her voice makes perfume!"



What will you say tonight, poor solitary soul,
What will you say, my heart, heart once withered,
To the very-beautiful, to the very-good, to the very-dear,
Whose divine gaze has suddenly reflourished you?

We shall set our pride in singing her praises:
Nothing is worth the sweetness of her authority;
Her spiritual flesh has the scent of the Angels,
And her eye clothes us in a light-habit.

Whether it be in the night and in solitude,
Whether it be in the street and in the multitude,
Her airborne ghost dances like a torch.

Sometimes it speaks and says: "I am beautiful, and I command
That for the love of me you love only the Beautiful;
I am the guardian Angel, the Muse, and the Madonna."


Le flambeau vivant
[43. The Living Torch]

They walk before me, these Eyes full of lights,
That a très-savant Angel has doubtlessly magnetized;
They walk, these divine brothers who are my brothers,
Shaking into my eyes their diamond fires.

Saving me from any snare and from any serious sin,
They guide my steps in the route of the Beautiful;
They are my servitors and I am their slave;
All my being obeys this living torch.

Charming Eyes, you sparkle from some mystical clarity
That candles have burning in full daylight; the sun
Reddens, but does not extinguish their fantastical flame;

They celebrate Death, you sing of Awakening;
You're walking, singing the awakening of my soul,
Stars whose flame no sun can annul!


[44. Reversibility]

Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish,
Shame, regrets, moans, troubles,
And the vague terrors of those frightful nights
That grip the heart like a paper that one crumples?
Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish?

Angel full of goodness, do you know hatred,
Fists clenched in the shadow and tears of gall,
When Revenge beats its eternal call,
And makes itself captain of our faculties?
Angel full of goodness, do you know hatred?

Angel full of health, do you know the Fevers,
Who, along the great walls of the greyish charity-ward,
Like exiles, go off dragging their feet,
Seeking the rare sunlight and muttering lips?
Angel full of health, do you know the Fevers?

Angel full of beauty, do you know wrinkles,
And the fear of growing old, and that hideous torment
Of reading the secret horror of devotion
Within eyes in which for ages our avid eyes drink,
Angel full of beauty, do you know wrinkles?

Angel full of happiness, of joy and lights,
Dying David would have sought health
In the emanations of your enchanted body;
But I only implore of you, angel, your prayers,
Angel full of happiness, of joy and lights!



One time, one only, amiable and gentle woman,
To my arm your polished arm
Leaned (on the tenebrous background of my soul
This memory is not faded);

It was late; just like a new medallion 
The full moon displayed itself,
And the solemnity of the night, like a river,
Streamed over sleeping Paris.

And along the houses, beneath the portes cochères,
Cats furtively passed by,
Ears cocked, or indeed, like dear shades,
Slowly accompanied us.

Suddenly, in the middle of a free-and-easy intimacy
Spawned by the pale light,
From you, rich and  sonorous instrument in which only resonates
The radiant gaiety,

From you, bright and joyous like a fanfare
In the glittering morning,
A plaintive note, a bizarre note
Escaped, all tottering-like

Like a sickly, horrible, somber, unclean little girl
Of whom whose family is ashamed,
And who would have her hidden away from everyone for a longtime,
In a cellar kept in secret.

Poor angel, she was singing, your harsh note:
"That nothing down here is certain,
And that always, with some care as to how it's face is painted up,
Betrays human selfishness;

That it's a hard profession, all this being a beautiful woman,
And that it's the banal work
Of the mad and cold dancer swooning
Within a mechanical smile;

That to build on hearts is a crazy thing;
That everything breaks, love and beauty,
Till what Oblivion chucks them in his basket
To give them over to Eternity!"

I have often recalled that enchanted moon,
That silence and that languor,
And that horrible whispered confidence
In the confessional of the heart.


No comments:

Post a Comment

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