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Opis ebooka The Flowers of Evil / Les Fleurs du Mal - Charles Baudelaire

The poetic classic of decadence and eroticism. Beautifully translated by Roy Campbell. 

Opinie o ebooku The Flowers of Evil / Les Fleurs du Mal - Charles Baudelaire

Fragment ebooka The Flowers of Evil / Les Fleurs du Mal - Charles Baudelaire

The Flowers of Evil / Les Fleurs du Mal

by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Roy Campbell

First published 1857 and 1861. Copyright 1952 Roy Campbell.

This edition published by Reading Essentials.

All Rights Reserved. 

[i]

[ii]

Also by Roy Campbell

VERSE

Collected Poems, John Lane.Flowering Rifle (an Epic of the Spanish War), Longmans.Talking Bronco, Faber and Faber.The Poems of St. John of the Cross (from the Spanish), Harvill Press.Adamastor, illustrated by the author, Paul Koston, Capetown.

PROSE

The plays of Helge Krog (from the Norwegian), John Lane.Taurine Provence, Desmond Harmsworth.Broken Record, John Lane.Light on a dark Horse, illustrated by the author, Hollis and Carter.Federico Garcia Lorca, Bowes & Bowes.La Literatura Contemporanea Inglesa, preface by Jose Maria Alonso Gams, Spanish Government, Madrid.

[iii]

A translation of LES FLEURS DU MAL and other poems

by ROY CAMPBELL

[iv]

Translator’s Note

These poems have been known to four generations, ever since they were first popularised by Swinburne, as the Flowers of Evil, but “Flowers of Sickness,” “Flowers of Anguish” or “Flowers of Pain” would better describe a great many of them than “Flowers of Evil,” since the word mal covers all these interpretations.

Having had considerable success with my translation of a Saint, St. John of the Cross, I determined to translate a fellow-sinner who is hardly less a believer, even in his rebellious and blasphemous moments, than the Saint himself. I have been reading Baudelaire since I was fifteen, carried him in my haversack through two wars, and loved him longer and more deeply than any other poet. I translated St. John of the Cross because he miraculously saved my life in Toledo in 1936. I am translating Baudelaire because he lived my life up to the same age, with similar sins, remorses, ostracisms, and poverty and the same desperate hope of reconciliation and pardon: and I may say to him as Manuel Barbosa du Bocage said to Luis de Camoes,

“And though in shame and all precarious shiftsYou were my Model—mine’s the crowning sorrow, To share your luck, but lack your towering gifts.”

I have tried to be as colloquial as possible, though I had to come down to Thou and Thee in the translation of his Latin poem in imitation of a Mediaeval hymn. I have also avoided Cockney rhymes as far as was possible for an r-less colonial to do. Poetic abbreviations like o’er, ere, mid, etc., I have generally avoided, in spite of their metrical convenience, since they long ago fell out of vernacular use, and therefore impair the sense of reality in a poem or the translation of one.

[vi]

I beg the reader’s indulgence if I have erred on the slangy side: but I feared to offend my great original who had a horror of the pompously poetic.

If I have not made as good a translation of Baudelaire as in the case of San Juan it will not be so much from lack of striving but for want of supernatural aid for in the latter case the Saint only needed to raise his stick and say “Arré burro!” (“Gee up, donkey!”) to me—and the Donkey trotted.

ROY CAMPBELL.

[vii]

EDITORIAL NOTE

This volume contains:

1. The complete second edition of FLEURS DU MAL (1861), the last to be published in Baudelaire’s lifetime.

2. The PIECES CONDAMNEES which were in the first (1857) edition of FLEURS DU MAL, but were eliminated from the second.

3. Le Coucher du Soleil Romantique.

4. Epigraphes.

5. Pieces Diverses.

6. ‘Le Jet d’Eau,’ ‘Les Yeux de Berthe,’ ‘L’Hymne’ and ‘Le Monstre’ from Galanteries.

N.B.—LES EPAVES, printed in Belgium in 1866, contained Numbers 2 to 6.

7. LES NOUVELLES FLEURS DU MAL printed in 1866 in Le Parnasse Contemporain.

8. ‘Priere d’un Payen,’ ‘La Lune offensee’ and ‘A Theodore de Banville’ printed in the third, posthumous, edition of LES FLEURS DU MAL (1868).

The poems have been arranged in the order followed by Y. G. Le Dantec in Baudelaire, Oeuvres, Bibliotheque de la Pleiade, N.R.F., Paris, 1934, except for the poem ‘L’Imprevu’: by Mr. Campbell’s request this has been placed as the concluding poem of the book, instead of in the section Pieces Diverses.

[viii]

Dedication This translation is dedicated to ROB AND FELICIA LYLE

[ix]

Contents

LES FLEURS DU MAL (1861)

To the Reader

page

1

Spleen et Idéal

I.

Benediction

3

II.

The Albatross

6

III.

Elevation

7

IV.

Correspondences

8

V.

I Love the Thought of those old naked Days

9

VI.

The Beacons

11

VII.

The sick Muse

13

VIII.

The venal Muse

14

IX.

The evil Monk

15

X.

The Enemy

16

XI.

Ill Luck

17

XII.

Former Life

18

XIII.

Gipsies on the Road

19

XIV.

Man and the Sea

20

XV.

Don Juan in Hell

21

XVI.

The punishment of Pride

22

XVII.

Beauty

23

XVIII.

The Ideal

24

XIX.

The Giantess

25

XX.

The Mask

26

XXI.

Hymn to Beauty

28

XXII.

Exotic Perfume

29

[x]

XXIII.

Her Hair

30

XXIV.

More than the night’s vault it’s you that I adore

32

XXV.

You’d stick the world into your bedside lane

33

XXVI.

Sed non Satiata

34

XXVII.

With waving opalescence in her gown

35

XXVIII.

The Snake that dances

36

XXIX.

The Carcase

38

XXX.

De profundis clamavi

40

XXXI.

The Vampire

41

XXXII.

One night when near a fearful Jewess lying

42

XXXIII.

Posthumous Remorse

43

XXXIV.

The Cat

44

XXXV.

The Duel

45

XXXVI.

The Balcony

46

XXXVII.

The Possessed

48

XXXVIII.

A Phantom

49

XXXIX.

For you this poem: if my name should reach

52

XL.

Semper Eadem

53

XLI.

All in one

54

XLII.

What can you say, poor lonely soul of mine

55

XLIII.

The living Torch

56

XLIV.

Reversibility

57

XLV.

Confession

58

XLVI.

Spiritual Dawn

60

XLVII.

Evening Harmony

61

XLVIII.

The Flask

62

XLIX.

Poisons

64

L.

Misty Sky

65

LI.

The Cat

66

LII.

The splendid Ship

68

[xi]

LIII.

Invitation to the Voyage

70

LIV.

The Irreparable

72

LV.

Conversation

74

LVI.

Song of Autumn

75

LVII.

To a Madonna

77

LVIII.

Song of Afternoon

79

LIX.

Sisina

81

LX.

Praises of my Francisca

82

LXI.

To a colonial Lady

84

LXII.

Moesta et Errabunda

85

LXIII.

The Ghost

87

LXIV.

Autumn Sonnet

88

LXV.

Sorrow of the Moon

89

LXVI.

Cats

90

LXVII.

The Owls

91

LXVIII.

The Author’s Pipe

92

LXIX.

Music

93

LXX.

The Burial of an accursed Poet

94

LXXI.

Fantastic Engraving

95

LXXII.

The Joyous Dead

96

LXXIII.

The Cask of Hate

97

LXXIV.

The cracked Bell

98

LXXV.

Spleen

99

LXXVI.

Spleen

100

LXXVII.

Spleen

101

LXXVIII.

Spleen

102

LXXIX.

Obsession

103

LXXX.

The Thirst for the Void

104

LXXXI.

Alchemy of Sorrow

105

LXXXII.

Sympathetic Horror

106

LXXXIII.

Heautontimoroumenos

107

LXXXIV.

The Irremediable

109

LXXXV.

The Clock

111

Tableaux Parisiens

LXXXVI.

The Landscape

112

LXXXVII.

The Sun

113

[xii]

LXXXVIII.

The red-haired Beggar Girl

114

LXXXIX.

The Swan

116

XC.

The seven old Men

118

XCI.

The little old Women

120

XCII.

The Blind

123

XCIII.

A Passer by

124

XCIV.

The skeleton Navvy

125

XCV.

Evening Twilight

127

XCVI.

The Gamblers

129

XCVII.

The Dance of Death

130

XCVIII.

Love of Lies

133

XCIX.

Neighbouring on the city, I recall

134

C.

Now the great-hearted servant, who aroused

135

CI.

Mist and Rain

136

CII.

Parisian Dream

137

CIII.

Morning Twilight

140

Le Vin

CIV.

The Soul of Wine

141

CV.

The Wine of the Rag Pickers

142

CVI.

The Wine of the Murderer

144

CVII.

The Wine of the solitary Man

146

CVIII.

The Wine of Lovers

147

Les Fleurs du Mal

CIX.

Destruction

148

CX.

The Martyr

149

CXI.

Damned Women

152

CXII.

The two good Sisters

153

CXIII.

The Fountain of Blood

154

CXIV.

Allegory

155

CXV.

Beatrice

156

CXVI.

Voyage to Cytherea

157

CXVII.

Love and the Skull

160

Révolte

CXVIII.

The Denial of St. Peter

161

CXIX.

Abel and Cain

163

[xiii]

CXX.

Litanies of Satan

164

La Mort

CXXI.

The Death of Lovers

166

CXXII.

The Death of Paupers

167

CXXIII.

The Death of Artists

168

CXXIV.

The End of the Day

169

CXXV.

Dream of a curious Person

170

CXXVI.

The Voyage

171

LES EPAVES 1866

I.

Romantic Sunset

179

Pièces condamnées tirées des

Fleurs du Mal

II.

Lesbos

180

III.

Damned Women

183

IV.

Lethe

187

V.

To one who is too gay

188

VI.

The Jewels

190

VII.

The Metamorphoses of the Vampire

192

Galanteries

VIII.

The Fountain

193

IX.

Bertha’s Eyes

195

X.

Hymn

196

XI.

The Monster

197

Epigraphes

XII.

Verses for Honoré Daumier’s Portrait

200

XIII.

On Manet’s picture ‘Lola of Valencia’

201

XIV.

On Delacroix’ picture of Tasso in prison

202

Pièces Diverses

XV.

The Voice

203

XVI.

The Ransom

204

[xiv]

XVII.

To a Girl from Malabar

205

SUPPLEMENT AUX FLEURS DU MAL 1866-1868

Nouvelles Fleurs du Mal

I.

Midnight Enquiry

209

II.

Epigraph for a condemned Book

211

III.

Sad Madrigal

212

IV.

The Fang

214

V.

The Rebel

215

VI.

Far away from here

216

VII.

Meditation

217

VIII.

The Gulf

218

IX.

Complaint of an Icarus

219

X.

The Lid

220

Poèmes ajoutés à l’édition

posthume

XI.

Pagan Prayer

221

XII.

The Moon offended

222

XIII.

To Théodore de Banville

223

Conclusion

The Unforeseen

227

[xv]

LES FLEURS DU MAL 1861

[1]

To the Reader

Folly and error, avarice and vice,Employ our souls and waste our bodies’ force.As mangey beggars incubate their lice,We nourish our innocuous remorse.
Our sins are stubborn, craven our repentance.For our weak vows we ask excessive prices.Trusting our tears will wash away the sentence,We sneak off where the muddy road entices.
Cradled in evil, that Thrice-Great Magician,The Devil, rocks our souls, that can’t resist;And the rich metal of our own volitionIs vaporised by that sage alchemist.
The Devil pulls the strings by which we’re worked:By all revolting objects lured, we slinkHellwards; each day down one more step we’re jerkedFeeling no horror, through the shades that stink.
Just as a lustful pauper bites and kissesThe scarred and shrivelled breast of an old whore,We steal, along the roadside, furtive blisses,Squeezing them, like stale oranges, for more.
Packed tight, like hives of maggots, thickly seething,Within our brains a host of demons surges.It is because we are not bold enough!
[2]
Amongst the jackals, leopards, mongrels, apes,Snakes, scorpions, vultures, that with hellish din,Squeal, roar, writhe, gambol, crawl, with monstrous shapes,In each man’s foul menagerie of sin—
There’s one more damned than all. He never gambols,Nor crawls, nor roars, but, from the rest withdrawn,Gladly of this whole earth would make a shamblesAnd swallow up existence with a yawn . . .
Boredom! He smokes his hookah, while he dreamsOf gibbets, weeping tears he cannot smother.You know this dainty monster, too, it seems—Hypocrite reader!—You!—My twin!—My brother!

[3]

SPLEEN ET IDEAL

I

Benediction

When by an edict of the powers supremeA poet’s born into this world’s drab space,His mother starts, in horror, to blasphemeClenching her fists at God, who grants her grace.
“Would that a nest of vipers I’d abortedRather than this absurd abomination.Cursed be the night of pleasures vainly sportedOn which my womb conceived my expiation.
Since of all women I am picked by YouTo be my Mate’s aversion and his shame:And since I cannot, like a billet-doux,Consign this stunted monster to the flame,
I’ll turn the hatred, which You load on me,On the curst tool through which You work your spite,And twist and stunt this miserable treeUntil it cannot burgeon for the blight.”
She swallows down the white froth of her ireAnd, knowing naught of schemes that are sublime,Deep in Gehenna, starts to lay the pyreThat’s consecrated to maternal crime.
Yet with an unseen Angel for protectorThe outcast waif grows drunken with the sun,And finds ambrosia, too, and rosy nectarIn all he eats or drinks, suspecting none.[4]
He sings upon his Via Crucis, playsWith winds, and with the clouds exchanges words:The Spirit following his pilgrim-waysWeeps to behold him gayer than the birds.
Those he would love avoid him as in fear,Or, growing bold to see one so resigned,Compete to draw from him a cry or tear,And test on him the fierceness of their kind.
In food or drink that’s destined for his tasteThey mix saliva foul with cinders black,Drop what he’s touched with hypocrite distaste,And blame themselves for walking in his track.
His wife goes crying in the public way—“Since fair enough he finds me to adore,The part of ancient idols I will playAnd gild myself with coats of molten ore.
I will get drunk on incense, myrrh, and nard,On genuflexions, meat, and heady wine.Out of his crazed and wondering regard,I’ll laugh to steal prerogatives divine.
When by such impious farces bored at length,I’ll place my frail strong hand on him, and start,With nails like those of harpies in their strength,To plough myself a pathway to his heart.
Like a young bird that trembles palpitating,I’ll wrench his heart, all crimson, from his chest,And to my favourite beast, his hunger sating,Will fling it in the gutter with a jest.”[5]
Skyward, to where he sees a Throne blaze splendid,The pious Poet lifts his arms on high,And the vast lightnings of his soul extendedBlot out the crowds and tumults from his eye.
“Blessèd be You, O God, who give us pain,As cure for our impurity and wrong—Essence that primes the stalwart to sustainSeraphic raptures that were else too strong.
I know that for the Poet You’ve a post,Where the blest Legions take their ranks and stations,Invited to the revels with the hostOf Virtues, Powers, and Thrones, and Dominations.
That grief’s the sole nobility, I know it,Where neither Earth nor Hell can make attacks,And that, to deck my mystic crown of poet,All times and universes paid their tax.
But all the gems from old Palmyra lost,The ores unmixed, the pearls of the abyss,Set by Your hand, could not suffice the costOf such a blazing diadem as this.
Because it will be only made of light,Drawn from the hearth of the essential rays,To which our mortal eyes, when burning bright,Are but the tarnished mirrors that they glaze.”

[6]

II

The Albatross

Sometimes for sport the men of loafing crewsSnare the great albatrosses of the deep,The indolent companions of their cruiseAs through the bitter vastitudes they sweep.
Scarce have they fished aboard these airy kingsWhen helpless on such unaccustomed floors,They piteously droop their huge white wingsAnd trail them at their sides like drifting oars.
How comical, how ugly, and how meekAppears this soarer of celestial snows!One, with his pipe, teases the golden beak,One, limping, mocks the cripple as he goes.
The Poet, like this monarch of the clouds,Despising archers, rides the storm elate.But, stranded on the earth to jeering crowds,The great wings of the giant baulk his gait.

[7]

III

Elevation

Above the valleys and the lakes: beyondThe woods, seas, clouds and mountain-ranges: farAbove the sun, the aethers silver-swannedWith nebulae, and the remotest star,
My spirit! with agility you moveLike a strong swimmer with the seas to fight,Through the blue vastness furrowing your grooveWith an ineffable and male delight.
Far from these foetid marshes, be made pureIn the pure air of the superior sky,And drink, like some most exquisite liqueur,The fire that fills the lucid realms on high.
Beyond where cares or boredom hold dominion,Which charge our fogged existence with their spleen,Happy is he who with a stalwart pinionCan seek those fields so shining and serene:
Whose thoughts, like larks, rise on the freshening breeze,Who fans the morning with his tameless wings,Skims over life, and understands with easeThe speech of flowers and other voiceless things.

[8]

IV

Correspondences

Nature’s a temple where each living column,At times, gives forth vague words. There Man advancesThrough forest-groves of symbols, strange and solemn,Who follow him with their familiar glances.
As long-drawn echoes mingle and transfuseTill in a deep, dark unison they swoon,Vast as the night or as the vault of noon—So are commingled perfumes, sounds, and hues.
There can be perfumes cool as children’s flesh,Like fiddles, sweet, like meadows greenly fresh.Rich, complex, and triumphant, others roll
With the vast range of all non-finite things—Amber, musk, incense, benjamin, each singsThe transports of the senses and the soul.

[9]

V

I love the thought of those old naked daysWhen Phoebus gilded torsos with his rays,When men and women sported, strong and fleet,Without anxiety or base deceit,And heaven caressed them, amorously keenTo prove the health of each superb machine.Cybele then was lavish of her guerdonAnd did not find her sons too gross a burden:But, like a she-wolf, in her love great-hearted,Her full brown teats to all the world imparted.Bold, handsome, strong, Man, rightly, might evincePride in the glories that proclaimed him prince—Fruits pure of outrage, by the blight unsmitten,With firm, smooth flesh that cried out to be bitten.
Today the Poet, when he would assessThose native splendours in the nakednessOf man or woman, feels a sombre chillEnveloping his spirit and his will.He meets a gloomy picture, which he loathes,Wherein deformity cries out for clothes.Oh comic runts! Oh horror of burlesque!Lank, flabby, skewed, pot-bellied, and grotesque!Whom their smug god, Utility (poor brats!)Has swaddled in his brazen clouts “ersatz”As with cheap tinsel. Women tallow-pale,Both gnawed and nourished by debauch, who trailThe heavy burden of maternal vice,Or of fecundity the hideous price.
We have (corrupted nations) it is trueBeauties the ancient people never knew—