Charles Baudelaire

The Ideal

It will never be the beauties that vignettes show, Those damaged products of a good-for-nothing age, Their feet shod with high shoes, hands holding castanets, Who can ever satisfy any heart like mine. I leave to Gavarni, poet of chlorosis, His prattling troop of consumptive beauties, For I cannot find among those pale roses A flower that is like my red ideal. The real need of my heart, profound as an abyss, Is you, Lady Macbeth, soul so potent in crime, The dream of Aeschylus, born in the land of storms; Or you, great Night, daughter of Michelangelo, Who calmly contort, reclining in a strange pose Your charms molded by the mouths of Titans! Translated by - William Aggeler L'Ideal 'twill be no lovely girls of our vignettes - spoiled fruits our worthless epoch deems divine — slim slippered feet, hands made for castagnettes, that shall content this questing heart of mine. I leave to great Gavarni, bard of blight, his prattling beauties with their frail appeal. I cannot find among his roses white the flaming flower of my red ideal. I crave, to fill my heart's abyss of death, thy passion, fair and merciless Macbeth, whom Aeschylus might not have dreamed in boreal snows; or thine, great Night, in Bunarroti's South, tranquilly turning in a monstrous pose thy bosom fashioned by a Titan's mouth! Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks The Ideal It could ne'er be those beauties of ivory vignettes; The varied display of a worthless age, Nor puppet-like figures with castonets, That ever an heart like mine could engage. I leave to Gavarni, that poet of chlorosis, His hospital-beauties in troups that whirl, For I cannot discover amid his pale roses A flower to resemble my scarlet ideal. Since, what for this fathomless heart I require Is - Lady Macbeth you! in crime so dire; - An Aeschylus dream transposed from the South — Or thee, oh great "Night"of Michael-Angelo born, Who so calmly thy limbs in strange posture hath drawn, Whose allurements are framed for a Titan's mouth. Translated by - Cyril Scott The Ideal No beauties such as figure in vignettes, Monsters of a vain era's lame design, With feet for buskins, hands for castanets, Can ever satisfy a heart like mine. I leave to Gavarni's chlorotic Muse These sickly prattling nymphs, however real; Not one of these pale roses would I choose To match the flowers of my red ideal. What my heart, deep as an abyss, demands, Lady Macbeth, is your brave bloody hands, And, Aeschylus, your dreams of rage and fright, Or you, vast Night, daughter of Angelo's, Who peacefully twist into a strange pose Charms fashioned for a Titan's mouth to bite. Translated by - Jacques LeClercq The Ideal It's not with smirking beauties of vignettes, The shopsoiled products of a worthless age, With buskined feet and hands for castanets - A heart like mine its longing could assuage. I leave Gavarni, poet of chloroses, His twittering flock, anaemic and unreal. I could not find among such bloodless roses, A flower to match my crimson-hued ideal. To this heart deeper than the deepest canyon, Lady Macbeth would be a fit companion, Crime-puissant dream of Aeschylus; or you, Daughter of Buonarroti, stately Night! Whose charms to suit a Titan's appetite, You twist, so strange, yet peaceful, to the view. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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