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Frans_Jozef
Thursday, October 2nd, 2003, 08:57 AM
Spleen (IV)
by Charles Baudelaire


Quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle
Sur l'esprit gémissant en proie aux longs ennuis,
Et que de l'horizon embrassant tout le cercle
Il nous verse un jour noir plus triste que les nuits;
Quand la terre est changée en un cachot humide,
Où l'espérance, comme un chauve-souris,
S'en va battant le mur de son aile timide
Et se cognant la tête à des plafonds pourris;
Quand la pluie étalant ses immenses traînées
D'une vaste prison imite les barreaux,
Et qu'un peuple muet d'infâmes araignées
Vient tendre ses filets au fond de nos cerveaux,
Des cloches tout à coup sautent avec furie
Et lance vers le ciel un affreux hurlement,
Ainsi que des esprits errants et sans patrie
Qui se mettent à geindre opiniâtrement
-- Et de longs corbillards, sans tambours ni musique,
Défilent lentement dans mon âme; l'Espoir,
Vaincu, pleure, et l'angoisse atroce, despotique,
Sur mon crâne incliné plante son drapeau noir.


ENIVREZ-VOUS


Il faut être toujours ivre, tout est là ; c'est l'unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l'horrible fardeau du temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.

Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie, ou de vertu à votre guise, mais enivrez-vous!

Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d'un palais, sur l'herbe verte d'un fossé, vous vous réveillez, l'ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l'étoile, à l'oiseau, à l'horloge; à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est. Et le vent, la vague, l'étoile, l'oiseau, l'horloge, vous répondront, il est l'heure de s'enivrer ; pour ne pas être les esclaves martyrisés du temps, enivrez-vous, enivrez-vous sans cesse de vin, de poésie, de vertu, à votre guise.

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE


-------------------


English translation:

You must always be drunk. That is everything: it is the only question. To not feel the horrible burden of Time breaking your shoulders and bowing you towards the earth, you must get drunk without cease.
But on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you like. But get drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the gloomy solitude of your room, you wake up, your drunkenness already diminished or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that flees, that moans, that rolls, that sings, that speaks, ask what time it is: and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, will answer: "It's time to get drunk! Not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk without cease! On wine, on poetry, on virtue, as you like."

link (http://www.piranesia.net/baudelaire/spleen/33enivrez.html)

One O'Clock in the Morning



At last! I am alone! Nothing can be heard but the rumbling of a few belated and weary cabs. For a few hours at least silence will be ours, if not sleep. At last! The tyranny of the human face has disappeared, and now there will be no one but myslef to make me suffer.


At last! I am allowed to relax in a bath of darkness! First a double turn of the key in the lock. This turn of the key will, it seems to me, increase my solitude and strengthen the baricades that, for the moment, separate me from the world.


Horrible life! Horrible city! Let us glance back over the events of teh day: saw several writers, one of them asking me if you could go to Russia by land (he thought Russia was an island, I suppose); disagreed liberally with the editor of a review who to all my objections kept saying: "Here we are on the side of respectability," implying that all the other periodicals were run by rascals; bowed to twenty or more persons of whom fifteen were unknown to me; distibuted hand shakes in about the same proportion without having first taken the precaution of buying gloves; to kill time during a shower, dropped in on a dance who asked me to design her a costume of Venustre; went to pay court to a theatrical director who in dismissing me said; "Perhaps you would do well to see Z....; he is the dullest, stupidest and most celebrated of our authors; with him you might get somewhere. Consult him and then we'll see": boasted (why?) of several ugly things I never did, and cravenly denied some other misdeeds that I had accomplished with the greatest delight; offense of fanfaronnade, crime against human dignity; refused a slight favor to a friend and gave a written recommendation to a perfect rogue; Lord! let's hope that's all!


Dissatisfied with everything, dissatisfied with myself, I long to redeem myself and to restore my pride in the silence and solitude of the night. Souls of those whom I have loved, souls of those whom I have sung, strengthen me, sustain me, keep me from the vanities of the world and its contaminating fumes; and You, dear God! grant me grace to produce a few beautiful verses to prove to myslef that I am not the lowest of men, that I am not inferior to those whom I despise.

Crowds

It is not given to every man to take a bath of multitude; enjoying a crowd is an art; and only he can relish a debauch of vitality at the expense of the human species, on whom, in his cradle, a fairy has bestowed the love of masks and masquerading, the hate of home, and the passion for roaming.


Multitude, solitude: identical terms, and interchangeable by the active and fertile poet. The man who is unable to people his solitude is equally unable to be alone in a bustling crowd.


The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself of someone else, as he chooses. Like those wandering souls who go looking for a body, he enters as he likes into each man's personality. For him alone everything is vacant; and if certain places seem closed to him, it is only because in his eyes they are not worth visiting.


The solitary and thoughtful stroller finds a singular intoxication in this universal communion. The man who loves to lose himself in a crowd enjoys feverish delights that the egoist locked up in himself as in a box, and the slothful man like a mollusk in his shell, will be eternally deprived of. He adopts as his own all the occupations, all teh joys and all the sorrows that chance offers.


What men call love is a very small, restricted, feeble thing compared with this ineffable orgy, this divine prostitution of the soul giving itself entire, all it poetry and all its charity, to the unexpected as it comes along, to the stranger as he passes.


It is a good thing sometimes to teach the fortunate of this world, if only to humble for an instant their foolish pride, that there are higher joys than theirs, finer and more uncircumscribed. The founders of colonies, shepherds of peoples, missionary priests exiled to the ends of the earth, doubtlessly know something of this mysterious drunkenness; and in the midst of the vast family created by their genius, they must often laugh at those who pity them because of their troubled fortunes and chaste lives.

Windows

Looking from outside into an open window one never sees as much as when one looks through a closed window. There is nothing more profuound, more mysterious, more pregnant, more insidious, more dazling than a window lighted by a single candle. What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what goes on behind a windowpane. In that black or luminous square life lives, life dreams, life suffers.


Across the ocean of roofs I can see a middle-aged woman, her face already lined, who is forever bending over something and who never goes out. Out of her face, her dress, and her gestures, our of practically nothing at all, I have made up this woman's story, or rather legend, and sometimes I tell it to myself and weep.


If it had been and old man I could have made up his just as well.


And I go to bed proud to have lived and to have suffered in some one besides myself.


Perhaps you will say "Are you sure that your story is the realy one?" But what does it matter what reality is outside myself, so long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am, and what I am?

Anywhere Out of the World

Life is a hospital where every patient is obsessed by the desire of changing beds. One would like to suffer opposite the stove, another is sure he would get well beside the window.


It always seems to me that I should be happy anywhere but where I am, and this question of moving is one that I am eternally discussing with my soul.


"Tell my, my sould, poor chilly soul, how would you like to live in Lisbon? It must be warm there, and you would be as blissful as a lizard in the sun. It is a city by the sea; they say that it is built of marble, and that its inhabitants have such a horror of the vegetable kingdom that they tear up all the trees. You see it is a country after my own heart; a country entirely made of mineral and light, and with liquid to reflect them."


My soul does not reply.


"Since you are so fond of being motionless and waching the pageantry of movement, would you like to live in the beatific land of Holland? Perhaps you could enjoy yourslef in that country which you have so long admired in paintings on museum walls. What do you say to Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts, and ships that are mooored on the doorsteps of houses?"


My soul remains silent.


"Perhaps you would like Batavia better? There, moreover, we should find the wit of Europe wedded to the beauty of the tropics."


Not a word. Can my soul be dead?


"Have you sunk into so deep a stupor that you are happy only in your unhappiness? If that is the case, let us fly to countries that are the counterfeits of Death. I know just the place for us, poor soul. We will pack up our trunks for Torneo. We will go still farther, to the farthest end of the Baltic Sea; still farther from life if possible; we will settle at the Pole. There the sun only obliquely grazes the earth, and the slow alternations of daylight and night abolish variety and increase that other half of nothingness, monotony. THere we can take deep baths of darkness, while sometimes for our entertainment, the Aurora Borealis will shoot up its rose-red sheafs like the reflections of the fireworks of hell!"


At last my soul explodes! "Anywhere! Just so it is out of the world!"

Leofric
Tuesday, February 14th, 2006, 11:28 PM
I'm taking a class this semester on literary translation — producing translations of literature that are themselves works of literature and not just picking a good work of art from one language and dropping it sloppily into another.

I wanted to share with you a translation I did today of Baudelaire's "Correspondances," which can be found in the original at the following website (among a thousand other places):
http://www.frankreich-experte.de/fr/6/62151121.html

Here is my translation:


The earth's a church whose breathing pillars preach
A whispered sermon: discordant accords
For sliding back, as woodland choirs' chords
Requite the quickened soul's repentant reach.

Like distant, long reports that mix and churn
In dark, profound, and savage unity
Before the skies' and mind's new clarity,
Aromas, hues, and sounds their songs return.

That's when one finds aromas baby-fresh,
That flit like clarinets on tufted seeds,
—But also heady scents whose heavy press

Impels our souls to bodies' endless needs,
Like amber, musk, and incense—living breath
To hail the heathen's birth and christian's death.


As I wrote it, I was thinking of some of our heathen friends here on Skadi, and I was hoping that they would find something in it that would correspond with their own lives.

I know I have strayed from the French in places (@Weg ;) ) — I wasn't trying to be slavishly faithful but just to be beautiful, with only one eye toward the original.

Feel free to tell me what you think.