Charles Baudelaire

The Ransom

Man has, for paying his ransom, Two fields of rich, deep, porous rock That he must clear and cultivate With the iron of his reason; To obtain the sorriest rose, To extort a few ears of grain, He must water them constantly With salty sweat from his gray brow. One is Art and the other Love. - To win the judge's favor When the terrible day Of dispassionate justice dawns, He will have to show granaries Filled with harvests and with flowers Whose forms and colors will Win the suffrage of the Angels. Translated by - William Aggeler The Ransom To pay his ransom man must toil With Reason's implement alone To plough and rake and free from stone Two plots of hard volcanic soil. And if he would from out them wrench A few thorns or a meagre flower, Continually a heavy shower Of his salt sweat their roots must drench. The one is Art, the other Love; And on that last and terrible day The wrath of the stern judge to stay And 'scape the vengeance from above, He must show barns whose uttermost Recesses swell with ripened grain, And blooms whose shapes and hues will gain The suffrage of the Heavenly Host. Translated by - Jack Collings Squire La Rançon to pay our ransom, heaven-assigned, two fields we have, whose fertile soil we must make rich by constant toil with the rude mattock of the mind; to bring to bloom one single stem, to wrest one sheaf of wheaten ears, our brows, with bitter streaming tears, must never cease to water them. one field is Art, the other Love. - and when that Day of Wrath-to-be, the Day of Justice comes, if we would satisfy the Judge above, then we must point to barns abrim with garnered hoards of golden grain, and flowers fair enough to gain the suffrage of the Seraphim. Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks The Ransom Man, for his ransom, has two fields, Two fields of tufa, deep and rich, Which he must duly delve and ditch. His reason is the hoe he wields. In order to extort one rose, Or to produce a few poor cars, He has to squander showers of tears In watering the seeds he sows. One field is Art, the other Love; And both must for his favour bloom When the strict judge appears above Upon the dreadful day of doom. Man's granges must be filled to burst With crops and flowers, whose form and shade Must win the angels' suffrage first Before his ransom can be paid. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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