Charles Baudelaire

Song of Autumn

I Soon we shall plunge into the cold darkness; Farewell, vivid brightness of our short-lived summers! Already I hear the dismal sound of firewood Falling with a clatter on the courtyard pavements. All winter will possess my being: wrath, Hate, horror, shivering, hard, forced labor, And, like the sun in his polar Hades, My heart will be no more than a frozen red block. All atremble I listen to each falling log; The building of a scaffold has no duller sound. My spirit resembles the tower which crumbles Under the tireless blows of the battering ram. It seems to me, lulled by these monotonous shocks, That somewhere they're nailing a coffin, in great haste. For whom? - Yesterday was summer; here is autumn That mysterious noise sounds like a departure. II I love the greenish light of your long eyes, Sweet beauty, but today all to me is bitter; Nothing, neither your love, your boudoir, nor your hearth Is worth as much as the sunlight on the sea. Yet, love me, tender heart! be a mother, Even to an ingrate, even to a scapegrace; Mistress or sister, be the fleeting sweetness Of a gorgeous autumn or of a setting sun. Short task! The tomb awaits; it is avid! Ah! let me, with my head bowed on your knees, Taste the sweet, yellow rays of the end of autumn, While I mourn for the white, torrid summer! Translated by - William Aggeler Chant d'automne I soon shall we plunge 'neath winter's icy pall; farewell, bright fires of too-brief July! even now I hear the knell funereal of falling fire-logs in the court close by. once more on me shall winter all unroll: wrath, hatred, shivering dread, Toil's cursèd vise, and like the sun in his far hell, the pole, my heart shall be a block of crimson ice. I wait aghast each loud impending log; thus, criminals 'neath rising gibbets cower. o dreadful battering-ram! my soul, agog, quivers and totters like a crumbling tower, till to my dream the cradling echoes drum like hammers madly finishing a bier. - for whom? — June yesterday; now fall is come! mysterious dirge, who has departed here? II I love your long green eyes of slumberous fire, my sweet, but now all things are gall to me, and naught, your room, your hearth nor your desire is worth the sunlight shimmering on the sea. yet love me, tender heart! a mother be even to an ingrate, or a wicked one; mistress or sister, be as sweet to me as some brief autumn or a setting sun. 'twill not be long! the hungering tomb awaits! ah! let me - brow at peace upon your knees — savour, regretful of June's parching heats, this balmy soft October, ere it flees! Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks Song of Autumn I Soon into frozen shades, like leaves, we'll tumble. Adieu, short summer's blaze, that shone to mock. I hear already the funereal rumble Of logs, as on the paving-stones they shock. Winter will enter in my soul to dwell - Rage, hate, fear, horror, labour forced and dire! My heart will seem, to sun that polar hell, A dim, red, frozen block, devoid of fire. Shuddering I hear the heavy thud of fuel. The building of a gallows sounds as good! My spirit, like a tower, reels to the cruel Battering-ram in every crash of wood. The ceaseless echoes rock me and appal. They're nailing up a coffin, I'll be bound, For whom? - Last night was Summer. Here's the Fall. There booms a farewell volley in the sound. II I like die greenish light in your long eyes, Dear: but today all things are sour to me. And naught, your hearth, your boudoir, nor your sighs Are worth the sun that glitters on the sea. Yet love me, tender heart, as mothers cherish A thankless wretch, Lover or sister, be Ephemeral sweetness of the suns that perish Or glory of the autumn swift to flee. Brief task! The charnel yawns in hunger horrid, Yet let me with my head upon your knees, Although I mourn the summer, white and torrid Taste these last yellow rays before they freeze. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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