Charles Baudelaire

The Alchemy of Sorrow

One man lights you with his ardor, Another puts you in mourning, Nature! That which says to one: sepulcher! Says to another: life! glory! You have always frightened me, Hermes the unknown, you who help me. You make me the peer of Midas, The saddest of all alchemists; Through you I change gold to iron And make of paradise a hell; In the winding sheet of the clouds I discover a beloved corpse, And on the celestial shores I build massive sarcophagi. Translated by - William Aggeler The Alchemy of Grief One, Nature! burns and makes thee bright, One gives thee weeds to mourn withal; And what to one is burial Is to the other life and light. The unknown Hermes who assists And always fills my heart with fear, Makes the mighty Midas' peer The saddest of the alchemists. Through him I make gold changeable To dross, and paradise to hell; Clouds for its corpse-cloths I descry. A stark dead body I love well, And in the gleaming fields on high I build immense sarcophagi. Translated by - Jack Collings Squire Alchimie de la douleur one lights thee with his flame, another puts in thee - Nature! — all his gloom! what says to this man: lo! the tomb! cries: life and splendour! to his brother. o mage unknown whose powers assist my art, and whom I always fear, thou makest me a Midas - peer of that most piteous alchemist; for 'tis through thee I turn my gold to iron, and in heaven behold my hell: beneath her cloud-palls I uncover corpses loved of old; and where the shores celestial die I carve vast tombs against the sky. Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks Alchemy of Sorrow One puts all nature into mourning, One lights her like a flaring sun - What whispers "Burial" to the one Cries to the other, "Life and Morning." The unknown Hermes who assists The role of Midas to reverse, And makes me by a subtle curse The saddest of all alchemists - By him, my paradise to hell, And gold to slag, is changed too well. The clouds are winding-sheets, and I, Bidding some dear-loved corpse farewell, Along the shore-line of the sky, Erect my vast sarcophagi. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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