Charles Baudelaire

Hymn to Beauty

Do you come from Heaven or rise from the abyss, Beauty? Your gaze, divine and infernal, Pours out confusedly benevolence and crime, And one may for that, compare you to wine. You contain in your eyes the sunset and the dawn; You scatter perfumes like a stormy night; Your kisses are a philtre, your mouth an amphora, Which make the hero weak and the child courageous. Do you come from the stars or rise from the black pit? Destiny, bewitched, follows your skirts like a dog; You sow at random joy and disaster, And you govern all things but answer for nothing. You walk upon corpses which you mock, O Beauty! Of your jewels Horror is not the least charming, And Murder, among your dearest trinkets, Dances amorously upon your proud belly. The dazzled moth flies toward you, O candle! Crepitates, flames and says: "Blessed be this flambeau!" The panting lover bending o'er his fair one Looks like a dying man caressing his own tomb, Whether you come from heaven or from hell, who cares, O Beauty! Huge, fearful, ingenuous monster! If your regard, your smile, your foot, open for me An Infinite I love but have not ever known? From God or Satan, who cares? Angel or Siren, Who cares, if you make, - fay with the velvet eyes, Rhythm, perfume, glimmer; my one and only queen! The world less hideous, the minutes less leaden? Translated by - William Aggeler Hymn to Beauty Comest thou from high heaven or from the abyss, O Beauty? For thy look, hellish, divine, Is fraught with mingled misery and bliss (Wherefore thy soul is as the soul of wine). Within thine eye red dawn and sunset burn; Odours thou spread'st as stormy evenings; Thy kisses are a draught, thy mouth an urn To make men quail and babes do mighty things. From the dark gulf, or from the immortal stars? The charmed Demon follows like a hound; Thou rul'st with hand that careless makes or mars, Nor to our prayers vouchsafest any sound. Thou walkest over dead men, mocking them, Beauty! and horror decks the throat of thee. And glittering murder, thy most precious gem, On thy proud belly dances amorously. Toward thee, flame, the dazzled insect flies. Shrivels and cries, "Blest conqueror of gloom!" Upon his fair one's breast the lover lies, As 'twere a dying man who hugs his tomb. Naive, terrible form! what boots it sky or pit, O beauty! if thine eye, smile, foot, alone Can open me the gate of an infinite My soul's athirst for, and has never known? What boots it, seraph or siren, from God's height Or Satan's hell, O queen! if thou dost come Soft-eyed, to make, with rhythm, scent, and light, The world less dull and time less burdensome? Translated by - Jack Collings Squire Hymn to Beauty O Beauty! dost thou generate from Heaven or from Hell? Within thy glance, so diabolic and divine, Confusedly both wickedness and goodness dwell, And hence one might compare thee unto sparkling wine. Thy look containeth both the dawn and sunset stars, Thy perfumes, as upon a sultry night exhale, Thy kiss a philter, and thy mouth a Grecian vase, That renders heroes cowardly and infants hale. Yea, art thou from the planets, or the fiery womb? The demon follows in thy train, with magic fraught, Thou scatter'st seeds haphazardly of joy and doom, Thou govern'st everything, but answer'st unto nought. O Loveliness! thou spurnest corpses with delight, Among thy jewels, Horror hath such charms for thee, And Murder 'mid thy mostly cherished trinklets bright, Upon thy massive bosom dances amorously. The blinded, fluttering moth towards the candle flies, Then frizzles, falls, and falters - "Blessings unto thee"— The panting swain that o'er his beauteous mistress sighs, Seems like the Sick, that stroke their gravestones lovingly. What matter, if thou comest from the Heavens or Hell, O Beauty, frightful ghoul, ingenuous and obscure! So long thine eyes, thy smile, to me the way can tell Towards that Infinite I love, but never saw. From God or Satan? Angel, Mermaid, Proserpine? What matter if thou makest - blithe, voluptuous sprite — With rhythms, perfumes, visions - O mine only queen! — The universe less hideous and the hours less trite. Translated by - Cyril Scott Hymn to Beauty Did you fall from high heaven or surge from the abyss, O Beauty? Your bright gaze, infernal and divine, Confusedly pours out courage and cowardice, Or love and crime. Therefore men liken you to wine. Your eyes hold all the sunset and the dawn, you are As rich in fragrances as a tempestuous night, Your kisses are a philtre and your mouth a jar Filling the child with valor and the man with fright. Did the stars mould you or the pit's obscurity? You bring at random Paradise or Juggernaut. Fate sniffs your skirts with a charmed dog's servility, You govern all and yet are answerable for naught. Beauty, you walk on corpses of dead men you mock. Among your store of gems, Horror is not the least; Murder, amid the dearest trinkets of your stock, Dances on your proud belly like a ruttish beast. Candle, the transient moth flies dazzled to your light, Crackles and flames and says: "Blessèd this fiery doom!" The panting lover with his mistress in the night Looks like a dying man caressing his own tomb. Are you from heaven or hell, Beauty that we adore? Who cares? A dreadful, huge, ingenuous monster, you! So but your glance, your smile, your foot open a door Upon an Infinite I love but never knew. From Satan or from God? Who cares? Fierce or serene, Who cares? Sister to sirens or to seraphim? So but, dark fey, you shed your perfume, rhythm and sheen To make the world less hideous and Time less grim. Translated by - Jacques LeClercq Hymn to Beauty Did you spring out of heaven or the abyss, Beauty? Your gaze infernal, yet divine, Spreads infamy and glory, grief and bliss, And therefore you can be compared to wine. Your eyes contain both sunset and aurora: You give off scents, like evenings storm-deflowered: Your kisses are a philtre: an amphora Your mouth, that cows the brave, and spurs the coward. Climb you from gulfs, or from the stars descend? Fate, like a fawning hound, to heel you've brought; You scatter joy and ruin without end, Ruling all things, yet answering for naught. You trample men to death, and mock their clamour. Amongst your gauds pale Horror gleams and glances, And Murder, not the least of them in glamour, On your proud belly amorously dances. The dazzled insect seeks your candle-rays, Crackles, and burns, and seems to bless his doom. The groom bent o'er his bride as in a daze, Seems, like a dying man, to stroke his tomb. What matter if from hell or heaven born, Tremendous monster, terrible to view? Your eyes and smile reveal to me, like morn, The Infinite I love but never knew. From God or Fiend? Siren or Sylph ? Invidious The answer - Fay with eyes of velvet, ray, Rhythm, and perfume! - if you make less hideous Our universe, less tedious leave our day. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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