Charles Baudelaire

To a Passer-By

The street about me roared with a deafening sound. Tall, slender, in heavy mourning, majestic grief, A woman passed, with a glittering hand Raising, swinging the hem and flounces of her skirt; Agile and graceful, her leg was like a statue's. Tense as in a delirium, I drank From her eyes, pale sky where tempests germinate, The sweetness that enthralls and the pleasure that kills. A lightning flash... then night! Fleeting beauty By whose glance I was suddenly reborn, Will I see you no more before eternity? Translated by - William Aggeler To a Woman Passing By The deafening road around me roared. Tall, slim, in deep mourning, making majestic grief, A woman passed, lifting and swinging With a pompous gesture the ornamental hem of her garment, Swift and noble, with statuesque limb. As for me, I drank, twitching like an old roue, From her eye, livid sky where the hurricane is born, The softness that fascinates and the pleasure that kills, A gleam... then night! O fleeting beauty, Your glance has given me sudden rebirth, Shall I see you again only in eternity? Somewhere else, very far from here! Too late! Perhaps never! For I do not know where you flee, nor you where I am going, O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it! Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner To a Passerby Around me thundered the deafening noise of the street, In mourning apparel, portraying majestic distress, With queenly ringers, just lifting the hem of her dress, A stately woman passed by with hurrying feet. Agile and noble, with limbs of perfect poise. Ah, how I drank, thrilled through like a Being insane, In her look, a dark sky, from whence springs forth the hurricane, There lay but the sweetness that charms, and the joy that destroys. A flash - then the night... O loveliness fugitive! Whose glance has so suddenly caused me again to live, Shall I not see you again till this life is o'er! Elsewhere, far away... too late, perhaps never more, For I know not whither you fly, nor you, where I go, O soul that I would have loved, and you know! Translated by - Cyril Scott A Passer-by The deafening street roared on. Full, slim, and grand In mourning and majestic grief, passed down A woman, lifting with a stately hand And swaying the black borders of her gown; Noble and swift, her leg with statues matching; I drank, convulsed, out of her pensive eye, A livid sky where hurricanes were hatching, Sweetness that charms, and joy that makes one die. A lighting-flash - then darkness! Fleeting chance Whose look was my rebirth - a single glance! Through endless time shall I not meet with you? Far off! too late! or never! - I not knowing Who you may be, nor you where I am going - You, whom I might have loved, who know it too! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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