Charles Baudelaire

The Abyss

Pascal had his abyss that moved along with him. - Alas! all is abysmal, — action, desire, dream, Word! and over my hair which stands on end I feel the wind of Fear pass frequently. Above, below, on every side, the depth, the strand, The silence, space, hideous and fascinating... On the background of my nights God with clever hands Sketches an unending nightmare of many forms. I'm afraid of sleep as one is of a great hole Full of obscure horrors, leading one knows not where; I see only infinite through every window, And my spirit, haunted by vertigo, is jealous Of the insensibility of nothingness. - Ah! Never to go out from Numbers and Beings! Translated by - William Aggeler Abyss Pascal abhorred the abyss but it hounded at his heals. The gulf gulps words, desires, actions and dreams. While my hair stands on end each woeful time The wind gropes through it with its silent screams. Above, below, about me, the great empty depth. A silence latches onto me and won't let me break loose, While God drafts my nightmares with his skillful pen, Multifaceted nightmares that know no truce. I'm scared to fall into the gaping hole of sleep. What horrors does it hold in its pitch black pit? Infinity lurks below. Through each window it peeps While vertigo is stalking me and my jittery spirit. I long to lose all feeling and embrace nothingness Where Beings and Numbers leave me to peaceful bliss. - James W. Underhill The Gulf Wherever Pascal went, his gulf was spread, All is abyss - dream, act, desire, or word! And often by the wind of terror stirred I've felt the hair shoot upright on my head. High up, low down, all round, the depth descending, The verge, the silence, the dread captor, Space. Behind my nights I see God's finger trace A Nightmare multiform yet never-ending. I dread my sleep like some enormous hole Full of vague horror, leading to no goal. All windows bare the infinite to me. My soul, in its vertiginous endeavour, Envies the senseless void - Ah, never never From entities or numbers to be free! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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