Charles Baudelaire

A Phantom

I The Darkness In the mournful vaults of fathomless gloom To which Fate has already banished me, Where a bright, rosy beam never enters; Where, alone with Night, that sullen hostess, I'm like a painter whom a mocking God Condemns to paint, alas! upon darkness; Where, a cook with a woeful appetite, I boil and I eat my own heart; At times there shines, and lengthens, and broadens A specter made of grace and of splendor; By its dreamy, oriental manner, When it attains its full stature, I recognize my lovely visitor; It's She! dark and yet luminous. II The Perfume Reader, have you at times inhaled With rapture and slow greediness That grain of incense which pervades a church, Or the inveterate musk of a sachet? Profound, magical charm, with which the past, Restored to life, makes us inebriate! Thus the lover from an adored body Plucks memory's exquisite flower. From her tresses, heavy and elastic, Living sachet, censer for the bedroom, A wild and savage odor rose, And from her clothes, of muslin or velvet, All redolent of her youth's purity, There emanated the odor of furs. III The Frame As a lovely frame adds to a painting, Even though it's from a master's brush, An indefinable strangeness and charm By isolating it from vast nature, Thus jewels, metals, gilding, furniture, Suited her rare beauty to perfection; Nothing dimmed its flawless splendor; All seemed to form for her a frame. One would even have said that she believed That everything wished to love her; she drowned Her nudity voluptuously In the kisses of the satin and linen, And, with each movement, slow or brusque, She showed the child-like grace of a monkey. IV The Portrait Disease and Death make ashes Of all the fire that flamed for us. Of those wide eyes, so fervent and tender, Of that mouth in which my heart was drowned, Of those kisses potent as dittany, Of those transports more vivid than sunbeams, What remains? It is frightful, O my soul! Nothing but a faint sketch, in three colors, Which, like me, is dying in solitude, And which Time, that contemptuous old man, Grazes each day with his rough wing... Black murderer of Life and Art, You will never kill in my memory The one who was my glory and my joy! Translated by - William Aggeler A Ghost I Perfume Reader, have you ever breathed in With intoxication and slow gluttony, That grain of incense which fills a church, Or that embedded musk of a scent-bag? Deep, magical charm, the past recalled By you now makes us drunk. Thus a lover plucks from an adored body The exquisite flower of memory. From her buoyant, heavy hair, A living sachet, censer of recesses, There climbs a fragrance, savage, wild, And from her muslin or velvet dresses, Permeated with her pure youth, Escapes a perfume of fur. II The Frame As a fine frame adds to its picture, Though it may come from a well-known brush, Thus jewels, furniture, metals or gilding Adapted themselves quite to her unusual beauty; it was some strange enchantment, Parting her from enormous nature; Nothing darkened her perfect pellucidity, Everything seemed to serve her as frame. At times one would even have said that she thought That all things desired to love her; voluptuously She drowned her nakedness In kisses of satin and linen, And, slow or sudden, in each movement Showed the childlike grace of the monkey. (The original publication only includes these two sections of the poem.) Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner Un Fantôme I Les Tenebres down in the unplumbed crypt of blight where Fate abandoned me to die, where falls no cheering ray; where I, sole lodger of the sulky Night, like artists blind God sets apart in mockery - I paint the murk; where, like a ghoulish cook at work, I boil and munch upon my heart, momently gleams, and grows apace, a phantom languorously bright, and by its dreamy Orient grace, when it attains its radiant height, at last I know the lovely thing: 'tis She! girl black yet glimmering. II Le Parfum how long, in silken favours, last their prisoned scents! how greedily we breathe the incense-grain, a sea of fragrance, in cathedrals vast! o deep enchanting sorcery! in present joys to find the past! 'tis thus on cherished flesh amassed Love culls the flower of memory. her thick curled hair, like bags of musk or living censers, left the dusk with strange wild odours all astir, and, from her lace and velvet busk, - candid and girlish, over her, hovered a heavy scent of fur. III Le Cadre as framing to a portrait gives - though from a famous brush it be — a magic full of mystery secluding it from all that lives, so gems, divans, gold, steel became her beauty's border and attire; no pomp obscured its perfect fire, all seemed to serve her as a frame. one even might have said she found all sought to love her, for she drowned in kisses of her silks and laces, her fair nude body, all a-quiver, and swift or slow, each pose would give her a host of girlish simian graces. IV Le Portrait Death and Disease to ashes turn all flames that wrapped our youth around. of her soft eyes, so quick to burn, her mouth, wherein my heart was drowned. of her wild kisses' tyrannies, her passion's blaze implacable - drear heart! what now is left of these? only a faded old pastel dying, like me, in loneliness, duller each day in every part, stripped by Time's pinion merciless... black murderer of life and art, never shalt thou destroy in me her, once my pride and ecstasy! Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks A Phantom I The Shades My fate confines me, dark and shady, In vaults of lone unfathomed grief. No rosy sunbeams bring relief. Alone with Night, my grim landlady, I'm like a painter whom God spites To paint on shades, and cook and eat My own poor heart, the only meat Of my funereal appetites. Sometimes a spectre dim, reclining In grace and glory, can be seen. With dreamy oriental mien. When fully its own form defining, I recognise who it must be, Sombre yet luminous, it's She! II The Perfume Reader, say, have you ever breathed, With lazy greed and joy, the dusk Of an old church with incense wreathed, Or smelt an ancient bag of musk? It's by such charms the Nevermore Intoxicates us in the Now - As lovers to Remembrance bow Over the bodies they adore. From her thick tresses as they fume (Scent-sack and censer of the room) A feline, tawny perfume springs. Her muslins and her velvets smooth Give off, made pregnant with her youth, Scents of the fur of prowling things. III The Frame As a fine frame improves a plate Although the graver needs no vaunting - I know not what of strange and haunting (From nature vast to isolate Her beauty) was conferred by gems, Metals, and gear. She mingled with them, And swirled them all into her rhythm As in her skirts the flouncing herns. They say she thought all things were stung With love for her. Her naked flesh She loved to drown in kisses fresh Of flax or satin. To her clung, In all the movements of her shape, The childish graces of the ape. IV The Portrait Sickness and death will form the ash and dust Of all the fire we blazed with in such splendour, Of those great eyes so fervent and so tender, The mouth wherein my heart would drown its lust, The kisses strong as marum, the delightful, Fierce transports livelier than the solar rays. What can remain? My soul, the truth is frightful! A fading sketch, a faint three-coloured haze, Which (like myself unfriended) wanes away, While Time, insulting dotard, every day, Brushes it fainter with his heedless wing... Killer of life and art! black, evil King! You'll never kill, within my soul, the story Of that which was my rapture and my glory. Translated by - Roy Campbell

Don't have an account?

You will be identified by the alias - name will be hidden