You are a lovely autumn sky, clear and rosy!
But sadness rises in me like the sea,
And as it ebbs, leaves on my sullen lips
The burning memory of its bitter slime.
— Your hand may stroke my breast, but not console.
What it seeks there is but a hole, deep caverned
By women's claws and fangs, and ransacked whole.
Seek not my heart, on which the beasts have ravened.
My heart is a palace polluted by the mob;
They get drunk there, kill, tear each other's hair!
— A perfume swims around your naked breast!...
O Beauty, ruthless scourge of souls, you want it still!*
You with hot eyes that flash in fiery feasts,
Burn up these meagre scraps spared by the beasts!
*it refers to the heart, that still desires beauty...
Translations I used:
— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)
— James McGowan, The Flowers of Evil (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993)
More Baudelaire at fleursdumal.org/