Charles Baudelaire

In Praise of My Frances

I'll sing to you on a new note, O young hind that gambols gaily In the solitude of my heart. Be adorned with wreaths of flowers, O delightful woman By whom our sins are washed away! As from a benign Lethe, I shall drink kisses from you, Who were given a magnet's strength. When a tempest of vices Was sweeping down on every path, You appeared, O divinity! Like the star of salvation Above a disastrous shipwreck... I shall place my heart on your altar! Reservoir full of virtue, Fountain of eternal youth, Restore the voice to my mute lips! You have burned that which was filthy, Made smooth that which was rough, Strengthened that which was weak. In my hunger you are the inn, In the darkness my lamp, Lead me always on virtue's path. Add your strength now to my strength, Sweet bath scented With pleasant perfumes! Shine forth from my loins, O cuirass of chastity, That was dipped in seraphic water, Cup glittering with precious stones, Bread seasoned with salt, delectable dish, Heavenly wine - My Frances. Translated by - William Aggeler Francescae Meae Laudes I shall sing new chords, O hind, As you gambol unconfined Through my solitary mind. Rest, adorned with wreaths of flowers, Comely woman whose vast powers Wash away these sins of ours As from Lethe's stream I shall Drink your kisses, one and all, Magnet-like and magical. When our vices stormily Swept down every path with glee, You approved, O Deity! Like the bright star of salvation Amid shipwreck's desolation - Take my heart in rapt oblation. Source of every good and store Of eternal youth, restore Song to my mute lips once more. What was foul you calcinated What was rough you Ievigated, What was weak you stimulated. In my hunger, you the inn, In my dark, the lamp; and in Your pale hands, an end to sin. Add your strength to mine, new-sent, Sweet bath ever redolent Of the suaver perfumes blent. From my loins, gleam radiantly O cuirass of chastity Steeped in balm seraphically. Cup with precious gems ashine, Savory bread, celestial wine, Blessed food, Francesca mine! Translated by - Jacques LeClercq Praises of My Francisca (Verses to a learned and devout Milliner) Upon new chords of you I sing. And the new-born bud you bring From solitude, the pure heart's Spring. Your brows should be with garlands twined Woman of delightful mind, Who our trespasses unbind. As the wondrous balm of Lethe, Through thy kisses, I will breathe thee. All are magnetised who see thee. When my vices, wild and stormy, From my wonted courses bore me It was You appeared before me, Star of Oceans! you that alter Courses, when the pilots falter - Take my heart upon your altar. Cistern full of virtuous ruth, Fountain of eternal youth, Give to dumbness speech and truth! What was dirty, you cremated, What uneven - you equated, What was weak you re-created. Inn, on the hungry roads I tramp, And, in the dark, a guiding lamp To steer the lost one back to camp. To my strength add strength, O sweet Bath, where scents and unguents meet! Anoint me for some peerless feat! Holy water most seraphic, On the lusts in which I traffic Flash your chastity ecstatic. Bowl of gems where radiance dances. Salt that the holy bread enhances, And sacred wine - your name is Frances! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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