Charles Baudelaire

Examination of Conscience at Midnight

The clock striking midnight Ironically invites us To call to mind what use we made Of the day that is fleeing: - Today, a fateful date, Friday the thirteenth we have In spite of everything we know Lived the life of a heretic; We have blasphemed Jesus, The one God one cannot deny! Like a parasite at the table Of some monstrous Croesus, We have, to please the brute, Worthy vassal of the Demons, Hurled insults at that which we love And flattered what repulses us. Servile hangman, we have saddened The weak man, wrongfully despised, Saluted enormous Folly, Folly with the brow of a bull; Kissed with great devotion Stupid and unfeeling Matter And bestowed our blessing on The wan light of putrefaction; Finally we have, to drown Vertigo in delirium, We, the proud priest of the Lyre, Whose glory is to show The rapture of sorrowful things, Drunk without thirst, eaten without hunger! - Quickly let us snuff out the lamp, So we may hide in the darkness! Translated by - William Aggeler Midnight Confessional The clock now sounds its twelfth last stroke, Ironically it bids us say To what good use we put this day Now vanished into vagrom smoke. Today, a fateful dateline, sic, Friday, thirteenth! in spite of all, We have lived helpless in the thrall Of sin, a stubborn heretic! We have blasphemed, denying Jesus, The one irrefutable Lord! Sycophant at the groaning board Of some fantastic monstrous Croesus, We have, to please the brute, made one With Demon hordes, and jesting of The holy truths which we should love, We have adored what we should shun. Basely we have heaped melancholy On the weak man wrongly decried, We have saluted endless Folly With its bull's brow and its ram's hide, We have with uttermost conviction Kissed Matter in its vilest essence, And we have lavished benediction On the wan glimmer of putrescence. Finally, drowning vertigo In stark delirium, shamefully, We, levites of the Lyre, lo! we Whose glory was devised to show Sorrow's brave rapture and grief's spark, Have feasted without appetite! - Quickly, let us snuff out the light And hide in the indulgent dark! Translated by - Jacques LeClercq At Midnight Ironic as the voice of Fate, Those dulcet chimes will have us start Pondering over, to our woe, The mined hours they bid depart. Today was an unlucky date - Friday, the thirteenth. O my heart, In spite of everything we know, How we have erred and fallen low! We have offended Jesus, most Admirable of gods by far: Even as sycophants approve Anything to be popular Or please some vile and powerful host (Creature of Satan that we are!) We have insulted what we love, Flattered what we have horror of - Heard falsehood, seen injustice done, Helped to cry down the poor man's cause; Paid homage to expressionless Cold Matter; hailed with wild huzzas Stupidity, that bull-like one Whose very bigness overawes; Nor have we been averse to bless The pale glitter of putridness. Finally, to cheat sadness, we Have reveled at the board of Greed, With neither thirst nor appetite - We, of the old Pierian breed, Whose pride was to win ecstasy From sorrow, loneliness, and need. - Hurry! Let us put out the light, That we be hidden in the night. Translated by - George Dillon Midnight Enquiry The clocks strike midnight one by one Ironically to remind us, And ask what profit we have won Out of the day we've left behind us. The Thirteenth, Friday, as it chances! A fatal date; when all is said, In spite of all we know, we've led The most heretical of dances. Today we've spent blaspheming Jesus, The incontestable, sole Lord; Like a base sponger at the board Of some intolerable Croesus, We have, to please the beast within us, The Devil's worthy advocate, Defamed all that whose love should win us, And flattered all that we should hate. The weak man, like a bullying coward, We harmed, and wrongly did despise; We worshipped Folly, where he towered, Huge bull-horned monster, to the skies. We have lain kissing stupid Matter With great devotion to its presence, And of Corruption stooped to flatter The wan, mephitic phosphorescence. To drown our vertigo entire And our delirium to nourish - Proud priest of the immortal Lyre Whose glory it has been to flourish The rapture of funereal things - We've eaten without appetite, Unthirsting drunk of muddy springs. Come, quick, my soul, blow out the light, To hide in shades of blackest night! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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