Charles Baudelaire

Beyond Redemption

I An Idea, a Form, a Being Which left the azure sky and fell Into a leaden, miry Styx That no eye in Heaven can pierce; An Angel, imprudent voyager Tempted by love of the deformed, In the depths of a vast nightmare Flailing his arms like a swimmer, And struggling, mortal agony! Against a gigantic whirlpool That sings constantly like madmen And pirouettes in the darkness; An unfortunate, enchanted, Outstretched hands groping futilely, Looking for the light and the key, To flee a place filled with reptiles; A damned soul descending endless stairs Without banisters, without light, On the edge of a gulf of which The odor reveals the humid depth, Where slimy monsters are watching, Whose eyes, wide and phosphorescent, Make the darkness darker still And make visible naught but themselves; A ship caught in the polar sea As though in a snare of crystal, Seeking the fatal strait through which It came into that prison; - Patent symbols, perfect picture Of an irremediable fate Which makes one think that the Devil Always does well whatever he does! II Somber and limpid tête-à-tête - A heart become its own mirror! Well of Truth, clear and black, Where a pale star flickers, A hellish, ironic beacon, Torch of satanical blessings, Sole glory and only solace - The consciousness of doing evil. Translated by - William Aggeler The Irremediable I A Form, Idea, or Essence, chased Out of the azure sky, and shot Into a leaden Styx where not A star can pierce the muddy waste: An angel, rash explorer, who, Tempted by love of strange deformity, Caught in a nightmare of enormity, Fights like a swimmer, wrestling through A monstrous whorl of eddying spume, In deathly anguish, from him flinging The wave that, like an idiot singing, Goes pirouetting through the gloom: A wretch enchanted, who, to flee A den of serpents, gropes about In desperation vain, without Discovering a match or key: A damned soul, who, with no lamp, Stands by a gulf, whose humid scent Betrays the depth of the descent Of endless stairs without a ramp, Where slimy monsters watch the track Whose eyeballs phosphoresce and glow Only to make the night more black And nought except themselves to show: A vessel that the pole betrays, Caught in a crystal trap all round, And seeking by what fatal sound It ever entered such a maze: - Clear emblems! measuring the level Of irremediable dooms, Which make us see bow well the Devil Performs whatever he presumes! II Strange tête-à-tête! the heart, its own Mirror, its own confession hears! Deep well where Truth is trembling shown And like a livid star appears, Ironic beacon and infernal Torch of satanic grace, but still Sole glory and relief eternal, - Conscience that operates in Ill! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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