Charles Baudelaire

The Death of Artists

How many times must I shake my bauble and bells And kiss your low forehead, dismal caricature? To strike the target of mystic nature, How many javelins must I waste, O my quiver? We shall wear out our souls in subtle schemes And we shall demolish many an armature Before contemplating the glorious Creature For whom a tormenting desire makes our hearts grieve! There are some who have never known their Idol And those sculptors, damned and branded with shame, Who are always hammering their brows and their breasts, Have but one hope, bizarre and somber Capitol! It is that Death, soaring like a new sun, Will bring to bloom the flowers of their brains! Translated by - William Aggeler La Mort des artistes how often must I shake my bells, and deign to kiss thy brow debased, full travesty? to pierce the mark, whose goal is mystery, how oft, my quiver, waste thy darts in vain? we shall exhaust our soul and subtle brain and burst the bars of many a tyranny, ere we shall glimpse the vast divinity for which we burn and sob and burn again! some too their idol never knew, and now, flouted and branded with the brand of hell, go beating fists of wrath on breast and brow; one hope they know, strange, darkling citadel! - can Death's new sunlight, streaming o'er the tomb, lure the dead flower of their brain to bloom? Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks The Death of Artists How often must I shake my bells, and kiss Your brow, sad Travesty? How many a dart, My quiver, shoot at Nature's mystic heart Before I hit the target that I miss? We'll still consume our souls in subtle schemes, Demolishing tough harness, long before We see the giant Creature of our dreams Whom all the world is weeping to adore. Some never knew their Idol, though they prayed: And these doomed sculptors, with an insult branded, Hammer your brows and bosom, heavy-handed, In the one hope, O Capitol of shade! That Death like some new sun should rise and give Warmth to their wasted flowers, and make them live. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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