Charles Baudelaire


Great woods, you frighten me like cathedrals; You roar like the organ; and in our cursed hearts, Rooms of endless mourning where old death-rattles sound, Respond the echoes of your De profundis. I hate you, Ocean! your bounding and your tumult, My mind finds them within itself; that bitter laugh Of the vanquished man, full of sobs and insults, I hear it in the immense laughter of the sea. How I would like you, Night! without those stars Whose light speaks a language I know! For I seek emptiness, darkness, and nudity! But the darkness is itself a canvas Upon which live, springing from my eyes by thousands, Beings with understanding looks, who have vanished. Translated by - William Aggeler Obsession Great woods! like mighty fanes you frighten me, You howl like the organ; in our cursed souls, Grey grief-chambers where old death-rattles be, Your many-echoing "De profundis" rolls. I hate thee, Ocean! for my spirit is torn With tumults like thine own; a laugh has birth, Like a beaten man's, full of all tears and scorn And bitterness, within the sea's vast mirth. Ah! how I love thee, Night, when not a star Speaks with known tongue of light through the dark air; For lo! I seek the void, the black, the bare; Yet even darkest depths but curtains are Where live, shot from my eye, innumerable Lost forms and faces that I know too well. Translated by - Jack Collings Squire Obsession Great forests, you alarm me like a mighty fane; Like organ-tones you roar, and in our hearts of stone, Where ancient sobs vibrate, O halls of endless pain! The answering echoes of your "De Profundis" moan. I hate thee, Ocean! hate thy tumults and thy throbs, My spirit finds them in himself. This bitter glee Of vanquished mortals, full of insults and of sobs, I hear it in the mighteous laughter of the sea. O starless night! thy loveliness my soul inhales, Without those starry rays which speak a language known, For I desire the dark, the naked and the lone. But e'en those darknesses themselves to me are veils, Where live and, by the millions 'neath my eyelids prance, Long, long departed Beings with familiar glance. Translated by - Cyril Scott Obsession You forests, like cathedrals, are my dread: You roar like organs. Our curst hearts, like cells Where death forever rattles on the bed, Echo your de Profundis as it swells. My spirit hates you, Ocean! sees, and loathes Its tumults in your own. Of men defeated The bitter laugh, that's full of sobs and oaths, Is in your own tremendously repeated. How you would please me, Night! without your stars Which speak a foreign dialect, that jars On one who seeks the void, the black, the bare. Yet even your darkest shade a canvas forms Whereon my eye must multiply in swarms Familiar looks of shapes no longer there. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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