Charles Baudelaire

On by Eugene Delacroix

The poet in the dungeon, sickly and unkempt, Rolling a manuscript under his convulsed foot, Measures with a look that terror enflames The stairway of vertigo down which his soul plunges. The intoxicating laughs that fill the prison Invite his reason to the strange and the absurd; Doubt surrounds him and ridiculous Fear, Hideous and multiform, flows all about him. This genius imprisoned in a noisome hovel, Those grimaces, those cries, that swarm of ghosts Gathered in a pack, swirls behind his car, This dreamer wakened by the horror of his lodgings, That's indeed your symbol, Soul with the obscure dreams, Whom Reality stifles inside its four walls! Translated by - William Aggeler On Delacroix's Picture of Tasso in Prison The poet, sick, and with his chest half bare Tramples a manuscript in his dark stall, Gazing with terror at the yawning stair Down which his spirit finally must fall. Intoxicating laughs which fill his prison Invite him to the Strange and the Absurd. With ugly shapes around him have arisen Both Doubt and Terror, multiform and blurred. This genius cooped in an unhealthy hovel, These cries, grimaces, ghosts that squirm and grovel Whirling around him, mocking as they call, This dreamer whom these horrors rouse with screams, They are your emblem, Soul of misty dreams Round whom the Real erects its stifling wall. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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