Every man worthy of the name
Has in his heart a yellow Snake
Installed as if upon a throne,
Who, if he says: "I will!" answers: "No!"
Plunge your eyes into the fixed gaze
Of Satyresses or Nixies,
The Fang says: "Think of your duty!"
Beget children, set out trees,
Polish verses, sculpture marble,
The Fang says: "Will you be alive tonight?
Whatever he may plan or hope,
Man does not live for an instant
Without enduring the warning
Of the unbearable Viper.
Contemplate them, my soul; they are truly frightful!
Like mannequins; vaguely ridiculous;
Strange and terrible, like somnambulists;
Darting, one never knows where, their tenebrous orbs.
Their eyes, from which the divine spark has departed,
Remain raised to the sky, as if they were looking
Into space: one never sees them toward the pavement
Dreamily bend their heavy heads.
Thus they go across the boundless darkness,
That brother of eternal silence. O city!
While about us you sing, laugh, and bellow,
In love with pleasure to the point of cruelty,
See! I drag along also! but, more dazed than they,
I say: "What do they seek in Heaven, all those blind?"
About Charles Baudelaire's "L´Ennemi" / "The enemy" from "Les Fleurs du mal" / "The Flowers of Evil"
My youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm,
Pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine;
Thunder and rain have wrought so much havoc
That very few ripe fruits remain in my garden.
I have already reached the autumn of the mind,
And I must set to work with the spade and the rake
To gather back the inundated soil
In which the rain digs holes as big as graves.
And who knows whether the new flowers I dream of
Will find in this earth washed bare like the strand,
The mystic aliment that would give them vigor?
Alas! Alas! Time eats away our lives,
And the hidden Enemy who gnaws at our hearts
Grows by drawing strength from the blood we lose!
About Charles Baudelaire's "La Vie antérieure" / "My former life" from "Les Fleurs du mal" / "The Flowers of Evil"
My former lifeFor long I lived beneath vast colonnades
Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew
Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds
That indolently follow a ship
As it glides over the deep, briny sea.
Scarcely have they placed them on the deck
Than these kings of the sky, clumsy, ashamed,
Pathetically let their great white wings
Drag beside them like oars.
That winged voyager, how weak and gauche he is,
So beautiful before, now comic and ugly!
One man worries his beak with a stubby clay pipe;
Another limps, mimics the cripple who once flew!
The poet resembles this prince of cloud and sky
Who frequents the tempest and laughs at the bowman;
When exiled on the earth, the butt of hoots and jeers,
His giant wings prevent him from walking.
My poor Muse, alas! what ails you today?
Your hollow eyes are full of nocturnal visions;
I see in turn reflected on your face
Horror and madness, cold and taciturn.
Have the green succubus, the rosy elf,
Poured out for you love and fear from their urns?
Has the hand of Nightmare, cruel and despotic,
Plunged you to the bottom of some weird Minturnae?
I would that your bosom, fragrant with health,
Were constantly the dwelling place of noble thoughts,
And that your Christian blood would flow in rhythmic waves
Like the measured sounds of ancient verse,
Over which reign in turn the father of all songs,
Phoebus, and the great Pan, lord of harvest.