Charles Baudelaire

The Enemy

My youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm, Pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine; Thunder and rain have wrought so much havoc That very few ripe fruits remain in my garden. I have already reached the autumn of the mind, And I must set to work with the spade and the rake To gather back the inundated soil In which the rain digs holes as big as graves. And who knows whether the new flowers I dream of Will find in this earth washed bare like the strand, The mystic aliment that would give them vigor? Alas! Alas! Time eats away our lives, And the hidden Enemy who gnaws at our hearts Grows by drawing strength from the blood we lose! Translated by - William Aggeler The Enemy Naught but a long blind tempest was my youth, Sun-shot at times; the thunder and the rain Have worked their havock with so little ruth That in my garden few red fruits remain. Now have I reached the autumn of my thought, And shovel and pick must use some soil to save From out the ruins that the rain hath wrought Where all around great pits gape like the grave. Who knows if these last flowers of my dreams Shall find beneath this naked strand that streams The mystic substance which their strength imparts? O misery! misery! Time eats our lives, And that dark Enemy who gnaws our hearts Grows by the blood he sucks from us, and thrives. Translated by - Jack Collings Squire L'Ennemi my youth was all a murky hurricane; not oft did the suns of splendour burst the gloom; so wild the lightning raged, so fierce the rain, few crimson fruits my garden-close illume. now I have touched the autumn of the mind, I must repair and smooth the earth, to save my little seed-plot, torn and undermined, guttered and gaping like an open grave. and will the flowers all my dreams implore draw from this garden wasted like a shore some rich mysterious power the storm imparts? - o grief! o grief! time eats away our lives, and the dark Enemy gnawing at our hearts sucks from our blood the strength whereon he thrives! Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks The Enemy My childhood was nought but a ravaging storm, Enlivened at times by a brilliant sun; The rain and the winds wrought such havoc and harm That of buds on my plot there remains hardly one. Behold now the Fall of ideas I have reached, And the shovel and rake one must therefore resume, In collecting the turf, inundated and breached, Where the waters dug trenches as deep as a tomb. And yet these new blossoms, for which I craved, Will they find in this earth - like a shore that is laved — The mystical fuel which vigour imparts? Oh misery! - Time devours our lives, And the enemy black, which consumeth our hearts On the blood of our bodies, increases and thrives! Translated by - Cyril Scott The Enemy I think of my gone youth as of a stormy sky Infrequently transpierced by a benignant sun; Tempest and hail have done their work; and what have I? - How many fruits in my torn garden? - scarcely one. And now that I approach the autumn of my mind, And must reclaim once more the inundated earth - Washed into stony trenches deep as graves I find I wield the rake and hoe, asking, "What is it worth?" Who can assure me, these new flowers for which I toil Will find in the disturbed and reconstructed soil That mystic aliment on which alone they thrive? Oh, anguish, anguish! Time eats up all things alive; And that unseen, dark Enemy, upon the spilled Bright blood we could not spare, battens, and is fulfilled. Translated by - Edna St. Vincent Millay The Ruined Garden My childhood was only a menacing shower, cut now and ten by hours of brilliant heat. All the top soil was killed by rain and sleet, my garden hardly bore a standing flower. From now on, my mind's autumn! I must take the field and dress my beds with spade and rake and restore order to my flooded grounds. There the rain raised mountains like burial mounds. I throw fresh seeds out. Who knows what survives? What elements will give us life and food? This soil is irrigated by the tides. Time and nature sluice away our lives. A virus eats the heart out of our sides, digs in and multiplies on our lost blood. Translated by - Robert Lowell The Enemy My youth was but a tempest, dark and savage, Through which, at times, a dazzling sun would shoot The thunder and the rain have made such ravage My garden is nigh bare of rosy fruit. Now I have reached the Autumn of my thought, And spade and rake must toil the land to save, That fragments of my flooded fields be sought From where the water sluices out a grave. Who knows if the new flowers my dreams prefigure, In this washed soil should find, as by a sluit, The mystic nourishment to give them vigour? Time swallows up our life, O ruthless rigour! And the dark foe that nibbles our heart's root, Grows on our blood the stronger and the bigger! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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