Charles Baudelaire


Behold the sweet evening, friend of the criminal; It comes like an accomplice, stealthily; the sky Closes slowly like an immense alcove, And impatient man turns into a beast of prey. O evening, kind evening, desired by him Whose arms can say, without lying: "Today We labored!" - It is the evening that comforts Those minds that are consumed by a savage sorrow, The obstinate scholar whose head bends with fatigue And the bowed laborer who returns to his bed. Meanwhile in the atmosphere malefic demons Awaken sluggishly, like businessmen, And take flight, bumping against porch roofs and shutters. Among the gas flames worried by the wind Prostitution catches alight in the streets; Like an ant-hill she lets her workers out; Everywhere she blazes a secret path, Like an enemy who plans a surprise attack; She moves in the heart of the city of mire Like a worm that steals from Man what he eats. Here and there one hears food sizzle in the kitchens, The theaters yell, the orchestras moan; The gambling dens, where games of chance delight, Fill up with whores and cardsharps, their accomplices; The burglars, who know neither respite nor mercy, Are soon going to begin their work, they also, And quietly force open cash-boxes and doors To enjoy life awhile and dress their mistresses. Meditate, O my soul, in this solemn moment, And close your ears to this uproar; It is now that the pains of the sick grow sharper! Somber Night grabs them by the throat; they reach the end Of their destinies and go to the common pit; The hospitals are filled with their sighs. - More than one Will come no more to get his fragrant soup By the fireside, in the evening, with a loved one. However, most of them have never known The sweetness of a home, have never lived! Translated by - William Aggeler Evening Twilight Now is the graceful evening, friend of the criminal; Now it comes like an accomplice, stealthily; the sky Closes slowly like a gigantic bedroom, And Man, impatient, changes to wild beast. O evening, lovable eveningtime, longed for by him Whose arms can truthfully say: Today We have worked! - It is evening that lightens Spirits consumed by a fierce sorrow, The stubborn savant whose forehead grows heavy, And the bent laborer gaining again his bed. Meanwhile unhealthy demons heavily awake, Like business men, in the atmosphere, And fly and strike the shutters and the awning. Across those lights the wind tortures Prostitution is ignited in the streets; Like an ant-hill she opens her escapes, Spawning all over a secret path, Like an enemy's sudden attack; She stirs on the breast of the city of dung Like a worm that steals his meals from Man. Here and there one hears kitchens hissing, The screaming of theatres and orchestras roaring; The plain tables, where gambling throws its pleasures, Fill up with bawds and cheats, accomplices, And thieves, who know no truce nor grace, Soon go to get to work, they also, Depart to force gently safes and doors For a few days' living and to clothe their mistresses. Reflect, O my soul, in this most solemn time, And close your ears to this roar. It is the hour when the sorrows of the ill are sharpened. Dark Night grips them by the throat; they fulfill Their fate and move into the common whirlpool; The hospitals are full of their sighing. - More than one Will no more come back to seek the perfumed soup, Beside the fire, at night, by a beloved soul. Still most, most of them have never known Home's sweetness nor have they really lived. Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner Le Crepuscule du soir 'tis witching night, the criminal's ally; it comes accomplice-like, wolf-soft; the sky slowly is closing every giant door, and man the rebel turns a beast once more. o Night, delicious Night, they sigh for thee - all those whose arms complain, and truly: we have toiled today! her solace and her peace Night brings to souls where cankering woes increase - the self-willed scholar, nodding drowsily, the workman bowed and hurrying bedward, free. but now the evil demons of the air wake heavily, like folk with many a care, and, soaring, dash their heads on wall or blind. among the gas-jets flickering in the wind from every door, a hive that swarms a new, pale Prostitution lights each avenue; clearing her secret ways where lechers crawl as might a foe who undermines a wall; gorging on what we need, she nightly squirms across the mire and darkness, like the worms. the kitchens rattle 'round us everywhere, playhouses roar and bands of music blare, swindlers and bawds ally themselves to fleece in wine shops, those who seek the cards' caprice, while thieves, who truce nor mercy never knew, will very soon resume their struggles too, and gently force the door where treasure is to feed themselves and dress their mistresses. awake, my soul, in this grave hour of sin and close thin ear to all its clamorous din. now is the time when sick men's woes increase! the murky night is throttling them; - they cease to breathe, and sink into the Gulf, undone. their groanings fill the poor house. - more than one will seek no more at dusk his savoury bowl beside the hearth, near some belovèd soul. and most of these have never known the call of home, nor had a hearth, nor lived at all! Translated by - Lewis Piaget Shanks Evening Twilight Delightful evening, partner of the crook, Steals in, wolf-padded, like a complice: look: Heaven, like a garret, closes to the day, And Man, impatient, turns a beast of prey. Sweet evening, loved by those whose arms can tell, Without a lie, "Today we've laboured well:" Sweet evening, it is she who brings relief To men with souls devoured by one fierce grief, Obstinate thinkers drowsy in the head, And toil-bent workmen groping to their bed. But insalubrious demons of the airs, Like business people, wake to their affairs And, flying, knock, like bats, on walls and shutters. Now Prostitution lights up in the gutters Across the glimmering jets the wind torments. Like a huge ant-hive it unseals its vents. On every side it weaves its hidden tracks Like enemies preparing night-attacks. It squirms within the City's breast of mire, A worm that steals the food that men desire. One hears the kitchens hissing here and there, Operas squealing, orchestras ablare. Cheap tables d'hôte, where gaming lights the eyes, Fill up with whores, and sharpers, their allies: And thieves, whose office knows no truce nor rest, Will shortly now start working, too, with zest, Gently unhinging doors and forcing tills, To live some days and buy their sweethearts frills. Collect yourself, my soul, in this grave hour And shut your ears against the din and stour. It is the hour when sick men's pains increase. Death grips them by the throat, and soon they cease Their destined task, to find the common pit. The ward is filled with sighings. Out of it Not all return the scented soup to taste, Warm at the hearthside, by some loved-one placed. But then how few among them can recall Joys of the hearth, or ever lived at all! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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