Charles Baudelaire

The Soul of Wine

One night, the soul of wine was singing in the flask: "O man, dear disinherited! to you I sing This song full of light and of brotherhood From my prison of glass with its scarlet wax seals. I know the cost in pain, in sweat, And in burning sunlight on the blazing hillside, Of creating my life, of giving me a soul: I shall not be ungrateful or malevolent, For I feel a boundless joy when I flow Down the throat of a man worn out by his labor; His warm breast is a pleasant tomb Where I'm much happier than in my cold cellar. Do you hear the choruses resounding on Sunday And the hopes that warble in my fluttering breast? With sleeves rolled up, elbows on the table, You will glorify me and be content; I shall light up the eyes of your enraptured wife, And give back to your son his strength and his color; I shall be for that frail athlete of life The oil that hardens a wrestler's muscles. Vegetal ambrosia, precious grain scattered By the eternal Sower, I shall descend in you So that from our love there will be born poetry, Which will spring up toward God like a rare flower!" Translated by - William Aggeler The Soul of Wine One night the wine was singing in the bottles: "Mankind, dear waif, I send to you, in spite Of prisoning glass and rosy wax that throttles, A song that's full of brotherhood and light. I know what toil, and pain, and sweat you thole, Under the roasting sun on slopes of fire, To give me life and to beget my soul - So I will not be thankless to my sire, Because I feel a wondrous joy to dive Down, clown the throat of some work-wearied slave. His warm chest is a tomb wherein I thrive Better than in my subterranean cave. Say, can you hear that rousing catch resound Which hope within my beating heart sings high? (With elbows on the table, sprawl around, Contented hearts! my name to glorify.) I'll light the eyes of your delighted wife. Your son I'll give both rosy health and muscle And be to that frail athlete of this life Like oil that primes the wrestler for the tussle, In you I fall, ambrosia from above, Sown by the hand of the eternal Power, That poetry may blossom from our love And rear to God its rare and deathless flower!" Translated by - Roy Campbell

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