Exploring The Waste Land - Show supplementary text

Les Fleurs du Mal
Au Lecteur
Charles Baudelaire

English translations in notes windowBaudelaire's original French
N.R. ShapiroIn NOTES frame
W.A. SiglerIn DEFINTIONS frame
 In AUXILARY window
Sources for text

William A. Sigler translation.
Copyrighted but used with permission.
(See copyright information below.)

Stupidity, mistake, stinginess, vice
Absorb our minds and drain our bodies force
And we feed our kindly remorse
Like beggars nourish their lice.

Our sins are persistent, our repentance lacking,
We will pay dearly to confess
And will end gaily back in the muddy mess
Believing our vile tears can wash the stains from their backing.

On the pillow of evil is Satan, greatest of kings, philosophers, priests,
Who continually swings our delighted souls
And turns the rich metal of our will
To vapor with his lucent alchemies.

It's the Devil who pulls the strings we press!
In repugnant things we find some charms kept;
Each day towards Hell we descend another step
Without horror, to traverse the fetid darkness

Like the wastrel who kicks and bites
The martyred tit of an ancient hooker
We steal a passing clandestine pleasure
Like juice from old oranges squeezed tight.

Teeming like a million worms
Demons people our brains
And, when we breathe, in our lungs death remains
Drop down, invisible river, with mute moans

If rape, poison, dagger, fire
Have not yet embroidered a pleasing design,
The banal canvas has our pitiful fate defined
It is our soul, alas, not daring to aspire.

Yet among the jackals, panthers and hounds,
The monkeys, scorpions, vultures and snakes,
The monsters that yap, howl, groan, crawl and shake
In the squalid menagerie where our defects are unbound,

There is one more mean, more vulgar, more ugly, more cold;
Although it lets no great gesture, no great cry, free
It would easily turn the earth to debris
And in a yawn would swallow the globe.

It's Boredom!—Uncontrolled tears make the eye thicken,
It dreams of scaffolds and smoking a hookah,
You know, hypocrite reader, this sensitive creature
—brother reader—my likeness—my twin.

This translation is copyrighted by William A. Sigler. This is the notice on his webpage home.carolina.rr.com/alienfamily/dedication.htm (June 14, 2002):

In preparing this translation, I've tried to approximate as close as possible the literal meaning as well as the poetic sound (including rhyme schemes) of the originals. ... Feel free to reproduce any of my translations; all I ask is you put my name on them.

William A. Sigler

Exploring The Waste Land - [Home] [E-mail] File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002