Les Fleurs du Mal
|English translations in notes window||Baudelaire's original French|
|N.R. Shapiro||In NOTES frame|
|W.A. Sigler||In DEFINTIONS frame|
|In AUXILARY window|
|Sources for text|
Norman R. Shapiro translation.
Copyrighted but used with permission.
(See copyright information below.)
Folly, depravity, greed, mortal sin
Invade our souls and rack our flesh; we feed
Our gentle guilt, gracious regrets, that breed
Like vermin glutting on foul beggars' skin.
Our sins are stubborn; our repentance, faint.
We take a handsome price for our confession,
Happy once more to wallow in transgression,
Thinking vile tears will cleanse us of all taint.
On evil's cushion poised, His Majesty,
Satan Thrice-Great, lulls our charmed soul, until
He turns to vapor what was once our will:
Rich ore, transmuted by his alchemy.
He holds the strings that move us, limb by limb!
We yield, enthralled, to things repugnant, base;
Each day, towards Hell, with slow, unhurried pace,
We sink, uncowed, through shadows, stinking, grim.
Like some lewd rake with his old worn-out whore,
Nibbling her suffering teats, we seize our sly
delight, that, like an orangewithered, dry
We squeeze and press for juice that is no more.
Our brains teem with a race of Fiends, who frolic
thick as a million gut-worms; with each breath,
Our lungs drink deep, suck down a stream of Death
Dim-litto low-moaned whimpers melancholic.
If poison, fire, blade, rape do not succeed
In sewing on that dull embroidery
Of our pathetic lives their artistry,
It's that our soul, alas, shrinks from the deed.
And yet, among the beasts and creatures all
Panther, snake, scorpion, jackal, ape, hound, hawk
Monsters that crawl, and shriek, and grunt, and squawk,
In our vice-filled menagerie's caterwaul,
One worse is there, fit to heap scorn upon
More ugly, rank! Though noiseless, calm and still,
yet would he turn the earth to scraps and swill,
swallow it whole in one great, gaping yawn:
Ennui! That monster frail!With eye wherein
A chance tear gleams, he dreams of gibbets, while
Smoking his hookah, with a dainty smile. . .
You know him, reader,hypocrite,my twin!
This translation of "Au Lecteur" by Norman R. Shapiro is copyrighted by the University of Chicago. This is the notice on the source webpage, www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/039250.html (June 14, 2002):
The URL for the University of Chicago Press is www.press.uchicago.edu
Copyright notice: Excerpted from Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Norman R. Shapiro, published by the University of Chicago Press. © 1998 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of both the author and the University of Chicago Press.
Exploring The Waste Land
File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002