Charles Baudelaire

Punishment for Pride

In that marvelous time in which Theology Flourished with the greatest energy and vigor, It is said that one day a most learned doctor - After winning by force the indifferent hearts, Having stirred them in the dark depths of their being; After crossing on the way to celestial glory, Singular and strange roads, even to him unknown, Which only pure Spirits, perhaps, had reached, - Panic-stricken, like one who has clambered too high, He cried, carried away by a satanic pride: "Jesus, little jesus! I raised you very high! But had I wished to attack you through the defect In your armor, your shame would equal your glory, And you would be no more than a despised fetus!" At that very moment his reason departed. A crape of mourning veiled the brilliance of that sun; Complete chaos rolled in and filled that intellect, A temple once alive, ordered and opulent, Within whose walls so much pomp had glittered. Silence and darkness took possession of it Like a cellar to which the key is lost. Henceforth he was like the beasts in the street, And when he went along, seeing nothing, across The fields, distinguishing nor summer nor winter, Dirty, useless, ugly, like a discarded thing, He was the laughing-stock, the joke, of the children. Translated by - William Aggeler The Chastisement of Pride In those old times wherein Theology Flourished with greater sap and energy, A celebrated doctor - so they say — Having stirred many careless hearts one day Down to their dullest depths, and having shown Strange pathways leading to the heavenly throne - Tracks he himself had never journeyed on (Whereby maybe pure spirits alone had gone) - Frenzied and swollen by a devilish pride, Like to a man who has climbed too high, outcried: "Ah, little Jesus, I have lifted thee! But had I willed to assault thy dignity, Thy shame had matched thy present fame, and lo! Thou wouldst be but a wretched embryo!" Straightway his reason left him; that keen mind, Sunbright before, was darkened and made blind; All chaos whirled within that intellect Erewhile a shrine with all fair gems bedeckt. Beneath whose roof such pomp had shone so bright; He was possessed by silence and thick night As is a cellar when its key is lost Thenceforth he was a brute beast; when he crossed The fields at times, not seeing any thing. Knowing not if 'twere winter or green spring, Useless, repulsive, vile, he made a mock For infants, a mere children's laughing-stock. Translated by - Jack Collings Squire The Punishment of Pride Once in that marvelous and unremembered time When theologic thought was flowering at its prime, A pious metaphysician, the pundit of his day, He who could move the hearts of murderers, so they say, Having attained to a most fearful pitch of grace By curious pathways he himself could scarcely trace, For all his subtlety of logic - this austere And venerable person (like one who climbs a sheer Peak unperturbed, but at the top grows dizzy) cried, Suddenly overtaken with satanic pride: "Jesus, my little Jesus! I have exalted you Into a very Titan - yet wielding as I do The wand of dialectic, I could have made you shrink To fetus-like proportions and fade away, I think!" He thought no more, for instantly his reason cracked. The noontide of this great intelligence was blacked Out. Elemental chaos rolled through this serene Temple, where so much order and opulence had been. From its gold floor to its groined ceiling it grew dim: Silence and utter night installed themselves in him, As in an antique dungeon whereof the key is lost. And from that day, through rain and snow, through sleet and frost, Not knowing spring from winter and too mad to care, He roamed about gesticulating, with the air Of an old suit of underclothes hung out to dry, And made the children laugh whenever he went by. Translated by - George Dillon The Punishment of Pride When first Theology in her young prime Flourished with vigour, in that wondrous time, Of an illustrious Doctor it was said That, having forced indifferent hearts to shed Tears of emotion, moved to depths profound: And having to celestial glory found Marvellous paths, to his own self unknown, Where only purest souls had fared alone - Like a man raised too high, as in a panic, Crazed with a vertigo of pride satanic, He cried "Poor Christ, I've raised you to renown! But had I wished to bring you crashing down Probing your flaws, your shame would match your pride And you'd be but a foetus to deride!" Immediately he felt his wits escape, That flash of sunlight veiled itself in crepe. All chaos through his intellect was rolled, A temple once, containing hoards of gold, By opulence and order well controlled, And topped with ceilings splendid to behold. Silence and night installed their reign in him. It seemed he was a cellar dank and dim, To which no living man could find the key; And from that day a very beast was he. And while he wandered senseless on his way, Not knowing spring from summer, night from day, Foul, dirty, useless, and with no hereafter, He served the children as a butt for laughter. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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