Charles Baudelaire

Parisian Dream

To Constantin Guys

I This morning I am still entranced By the image, distant and dim, Of that awe-inspiring landscape Such as no mortal ever saw. Sleep is full of miracles! Obeying a curious whim, I had banned from that spectacle Irregular vegetation, And, painter proud of his genius, I savored in my picture The delightful monotony Of water, marble, and metal. Babel of arcades and stairways, It was a palace infinite, Full of basins and of cascades Falling on dull or burnished gold, And heavy waterfalls, Like curtains of crystal, Were hanging, bright and resplendent, From ramparts of metal. Not with trees but with colonnades The sleeping ponds were encircled; In these mirrors huge naiads Admired themselves like women. Streams of blue water flowed along Between rose and green embankments, Stretching away millions of leagues Toward the end of the universe; There were indescribable stones And magic waves; there were Enormous glaciers bedazzled By everything they reflected! Insouciant and taciturn, Ganges, in the firmament, Poured out the treasure of their urns Into chasms made of diamonds. Architect of my fairyland, Whenever it pleased me I made A vanquished ocean flow Into a tunnel of jewels; And all, even the color black, Seemed polished, bright, iridescent, Liquid enchased its own glory In the crystallized rays of light. Moreover, no star, no glimmer Of sun, even at the sky's rim, Illuminated these marvels That burned with a personal fire! And over these shifting wonders Hovered (terrible novelty! All for the eye, naught for the ear!) The silence of eternity. II Opening my eyes full of flames I saw my miserable room And felt the cursed blade of care Sink deep into my heart again; The clock with its death-like accent Was brutally striking noon; The sky was pouring down its gloom Upon the dismal, torpid world. Translated by - William Aggeler Parisian Dream I That marvelous landscape of my dream - Which no eye knows, nor ever will - At moments, wide awake, I seem To grasp, and it excites me still. Sleep, how miraculous you are - A strange caprice had urged my hand To banish, as irregular, All vegetation from that land; And, proud of what my art had done, I viewed my painting, knew the great Intoxicating monotone Of marble, water, steel and slate. Staircases and arcades there were In a long labyrinth, which led To a vast palace; fountains there Were gushing gold, and gushing lead. And many a heavy cataract Hung like a curtain, - did not fall, As water does, but hung, compact, Crystal, on many a metal wall. Tall nymphs with Titan breasts and knees Gazed at their images unblurred, Where groves of colonnades, not trees, Fringed a deep pool where nothing stirred. Blue sheets of water, left and right, Spread between quays of rose and green, To the world's end and out of sight, And still expanded, though unseen. Enchanted rivers, those - with jade And jasper were their banks bedecked; Enormous mirrors, dazzled, made Dizzy by all they did reflect. And many a Ganges, taciturn And heedless, in the vaulted air, Poured out the treasure of its urn Into a gulf of diamond there. As architect, it tempted me To tame the ocean at its source; And this I did, - I made the sea Under a jeweled culvert course. And every color, even black, Became prismatic, polished, bright; The liquid gave its glory back Mounted in iridescent light. There was no moon, there was no sun, - For why should sun and moon conspire To light such prodigies? - each one Blazed with its own essential fire! A silence like eternity Prevailed, there was no sound to hear; These marvels all were for the eye, And there was nothing for the ear. II I woke; my mind was bright with flame; I saw the cheap and sordid hole I live in, and my cares all came Burrowing back into my soul. Brutally the twelve strokes of noon Against my naked ear were hurled; And a gray sky was drizzling down Upon this sad, lethargic world. Translated by - Edna St. Vincent Millay Parisian Dream I Of the dread landscape that I saw, Where human eyes were never set, I still am ravished by the awe That, vague and distant, haunts me yet. Sleep is of miracles so fain That I (O singular caprice!) As being formless, could obtain That vegetable life should cease. A painter, in my genius free, I there exulted in the fettle Derived from a monotony Composed of marble, lymph, and metal. Babels of stairways and arcades, Endless and topless to behold, With ponds, and jets, and steep cascades Filling receptacles of gold: Ponderous cataracts there swung Like crystal curtains, foaming shawls - Dazzling and glittering they hung Suspended from the metal walls. Not trees, but colonnades, enclosed Motionless lakes, besides whose shelves Gigantic naiades reposed, Like women, gazing at themselves. Blue sheets of water interlay Unnumbered quays of green and rose, That stretched a million leagues away To where the bounds of space impose. 'Twas formed of unknown stones that blazed And magic waves that intersect, Where icebergs floated, seeming dazed With all they mirror and reflect. Impassive, cold, and taciturn, Great Ganges, through the sky's vast prism, Each poured the treasures of its urn Into a diamond abysm. Architect of my fairy scene, I willed, by wondrous stratagems, An ocean, tamed, to pass between A tunnel that was made of gems. There all things, even the colour black, Seemed irridescently to play, And liquid crystalised its lack Of outline in a frozen ray. No star, no sun could be discerned, Even low down, in that vast sky: The fire was personal that burned To show these marvels to the eye. Above these moving wonders sheer There soared (that such a thing should be! All for the eye, none for the ear!) A silence of eternity. II My opening eyes, as red as coal, The horror of my lodging met. I felt re-entering my soul The knife of cares and vain regret. The clock with brutal accent played Funereal chimes. The time was noon And heaven covered, with its shade, The world, this fatuous balloon! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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