Charles Baudelaire

A Carcass

My love, do you recall the object which we saw, That fair, sweet, summer morn! At a turn in the path a foul carcass On a gravel strewn bed, Its legs raised in the air, like a lustful woman, Burning and dripping with poisons, Displayed in a shameless, nonchalant way Its belly, swollen with gases. The sun shone down upon that putrescence, As if to roast it to a turn, And to give back a hundredfold to great Nature The elements she had combined; And the sky was watching that superb cadaver Blossom like a flower. So frightful was the stench that you believed You'd faint away upon the grass. The blow-flies were buzzing round that putrid belly, From which came forth black battalions Of maggots, which oozed out like a heavy liquid All along those living tatters. All this was descending and rising like a wave, Or poured out with a crackling sound; One would have said the body, swollen with a vague breath, Lived by multiplication. And this world gave forth singular music, Like running water or the wind, Or the grain that winnowers with a rhythmic motion Shake in their winnowing baskets. The forms disappeared and were no more than a dream, A sketch that slowly falls Upon the forgotten canvas, that the artist Completes from memory alone. Crouched behind the boulders, an anxious dog Watched us with angry eye, Waiting for the moment to take back from the carcass The morsel he had left. - And yet you will be like this corruption, Like this horrible infection, Star of my eyes, sunlight of my being, You, my angel and my passion! Yes! thus will you be, queen of the Graces, After the last sacraments, When you go beneath grass and luxuriant flowers, To molder among the bones of the dead. Then, O my beauty! say to the worms who will Devour you with kisses, That I have kept the form and the divine essence Of my decomposed love! Translated by - William Aggeler A Carrion Do you remember the thing we saw, my soul, That summer morning, so beautiful, so soft: At a turning in the path, a filthy carrion, On a bed sown with stones, Legs in the air, like a lascivious woman, Burning and sweating poisons, Opened carelessly, cynically, Its great fetid belly. The sun shone on this fester, As though to cook it to a turn, And to return a hundredfold to great Nature What she had joined in one; And the sky saw the superb carcass Open like a flower. The stench was so strong, that you might think To swoon away upon the grass. The flies swarmed on that rotten belly, Whence came out black battalions Of spawn, flowing like a thick liquid Along its living tatters. All this rose and fell like a wave, Or rustled in jerks; One would have said that the body, fun of a loose breath, Lived in this its procreation. And this world gave out a strange music, Like flowing water and wind, Or a winnower's grain that he shakes and turns With rhythmical grace in his basket. The forms fade and are no more than a dream, A sketch slow to come On the forgotten canvas, and that the artist completes Only by memory. Behind the boulders an anxious bitch Watched us with angry eyes, Spying the moment to regain in the skeleton The morsel she had dropped. - And yet you will be like this excrement, This horrible stench, O star of my eyes, sun of my being, You, my angel, my passion. Yes, such you will be, queen of gracefulness, After the last sacraments, When you go beneath the grasses and fat flowers, Moldering amongst the bones. Then, my beauty, say to the vermin Which will eat you with kisses, That I have kept the shape and the divine substance Of my decomposed loves! Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner A Carrion Rememberest thou, my sweet, that summer's day, How in the sun outspread At a path's bend a filthy carcase lay Upon a pebbly bed? Like a lewd woman, with its legs in air, Burned, oozed the poisonous mass; Its gaping belly, calm and debonair, Was full of noisome gas. And steadily upon this rottenness. As though to cook it brown And render Nature hundredfold excess. The sun shone down. The blue sky thought the carrion marvellous, A flower most fair to see; And as we gazed it almost poisoned us - It stank so horribly. The flies buzzed on this putrid belly, whence Black hosts of maggots came, Which streamed in thick and shining rivers thence Along that ragged frame. Pulsating like a wave, spirting about Bright jets, it seemed to live; As though it were by some vague wind blown out, Some breath procreative. And all this life was strangely musical Like wind or bubbling spring, Or corn which moves with rhythmic rise and fall In time of winnowing. The lines became indefinite and faint As a thin dream that dies, A half-forgotten scene the hand can paint Only from memories... Behind the rocks there lurked a hungry hound With melancholy eye, Longing to nose the morsel he had found And gnaw it greedily. Yet thou shalt be as vile a carrion As this infection dire, O bright star of my eyes, my nature's sun, My angel, my desire! Yea, such, O queen of the graces, shalt thou be After the last soft breath. Beneath the grass and the lush greenery A-mouldering in death! When thy sweet flesh the worms devour with kisses, Tell them, O beauty mine. Of rotting loves I keep the bodily blisses And essence all-divine! Translated by - Jack Collings Squire Carrion Darling, do you recall that thing we found ("A lovely summer day!" you said) That noisome carcass where the path swung round A sprawling pebble-covered bed. Its legs raised like a whore's in lubric play, It burned, oozing rank fetors there, Shameless and nonchalant, it offered day Its belly. Poisons filled the air. The sun beat down on this putrescent mold As if to fry it to a turn, To give great Nature back one hundredfold All she had gathered in her urn. The skies watched that proud carcass, lax or taut, Bloom like a flowery mass. So pungent was the stench, my love, you thought To swoon away upon the grass. Horseflies buzzed loud over this putrid belly, Whence sallied column and battalion Of sable maggots, flowing like a mucose jelly, Over this live tatterdemalion. Waves seemed to rise and fall over this mass, Spurting with crepitation, As though this corpse, filled with breaths of gas, Lived by multiplication. This world uttered a curious melody, Like waters, wind, or grains of wheat That winnowers keep stirring rhythmically In the broad baskets at their feet. The forms, fading into a dream, grew fainter; Here was a sketch of misty tone On a forgotten canvas which the painter Completes from memory alone. Hiding behind the rocks, an anxious bitch Stood, watching us with angry eye, Poised to regain the olid morsel which, Hearing us come, she had laid by. - Yet shall you be like this ordurous blight, You, too, shall rot in just such fashion, Star of my eyes, sun of my soul's delight, Aye, you, my angel and my passion. Such you, O queen of graces, in the hours, When the last sacrament is said, That bear you under rich sods and Iush flower To molder with the moldering dead. Then, O my beauty! Tell such worms as will Kiss you in ultimate coition That I have kept the form and essence of My love in its decomposition. Translated by - Jacques LeClercq A Carcass Recall to mind the sight we saw, my soul, That soft, sweet summer day: Upon a bed of flints a carrion foul, Just as we turn'd the way, Its legs erected, wanton-like, in air, Burning and sweating pest, In unconcern'd and cynic sort laid bare To view its noisome breast. The sun lit up the rottenness with gold, To bake it well inclined, And give great Nature back a hundredfold All she together join'd. The sky regarded as the carcass proud Oped flower-like to the day; So strong the odour, on the grass you vow'd You thought to faint away. The flies the putrid belly buzz'd about, Whence black battalions throng Of maggots, like thick liquid flowing out The living rags along. And as a wave they mounted and went down, Or darted sparkling wide; As if the body, by a wild breath blown, Lived as it multiplied. From all this life a music strange there ran, Like wind and running burns; Or like the wheat a winnower in his fan With rhythmic movement turns. The forms wore off, and as a dream grew faint, An outline dimly shown, And which the artist finishes to paint From memory alone. Behind the rocks watch'd us with angry eye A bitch disturb'd in theft, Waiting to take, till we had pass'd her by, The morsel she had left. Yet you will be like that corruption too, Like that infection prove - Star of my eyes, sun of my nature, you, My angel and my love! Queen of the graces, you will even be so, When, the last ritual said, Beneath the grass and the fat flowers you go, To mould among the dead. Then, O my beauty, tell the insatiate worm Who wastes you with his kiss, I have kept the godlike essence and the form Of perishable bliss! Translated by - Richard Herne Shepherd The Carcase The object that we saw, let us recall, This summer morn when warmth and beauty mingle - At the path's turn, a carcase lay asprawl Upon a bed of shingle. Legs raised, like some old whore far-gone in passion, The burning, deadly, poison-sweating mass Opened its paunch in careless, cynic fashion, Ballooned with evil gas. On this putrescence the sun blazed in gold, Cooking it to a turn with eager care - So to repay to Nature, hundredfold, What she had mingled there. The sky, as on the opening of a flower, On this superb obscenity smiled bright. The stench drove at us, with such fearsome power You thought you'd swoon outright. Flies trumpeted upon the rotten belly Whence larvae poured in legions far and wide, And flowed, like molten and liquescent jelly, Down living rags of hide. The mass ran down, or, like a wave elated Rolled itself on, and crackled as if frying: You'd think that corpse, by vague breath animated, Drew life from multiplying. Through that strange world a rustling rumour ran Like rushing water or a gust of air, Or grain that winnowers, with rhythmic fan, Sweep simmering here and there. It seemed a dream after the forms grew fainter, Or like a sketch that slowly seems to dawn On a forgotten canvas, which the painter From memory has drawn. Behind the rocks a restless cur that slunk Eyed us with fretful greed to recommence His feast, amidst the bonework, on the chunk That he had torn from thence. Yet you'll resemble this infection too One day, and stink and sprawl in such a fashion, Star of my eyes, sun of my nature, you, My angel and my passion! Yes, you must come to this, O queen of graces, At length, when the last sacraments are over, And you go down to moulder in dark places Beneath the grass and clover. Then tell the vermin as it takes its pleasance And feasts with kisses on that face of yours, I've kept intact in form and godlike essence Our decomposed amours! Translated by - Roy Campbell

Don't have an account?

You will be identified by the alias - name will be hidden