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Charles Baudelaire

(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

Bohémiens En Voyage (Gypsies On The Road)


La tribu prophétique aux prunelles ardentes
Hier s'est mise en route, emportant ses petits
Sur son dos, ou livrant à leurs fiers appétits
Le trésor toujours prêt des mamelles pendantes.

Les hommes vont à pied sous leurs armes luisantes
Le long des chariots où les leurs sont blottis,
Promenant sur le ciel des yeux appesantis
Par le morne regret des chimères absentes.

Du fond de son réduit sablonneux, le grillon,
Les regardant passer, redouble sa chanson;
Cybèle, qui les aime, augmente ses verdures,

Fait couler le rocher et fleurir le désert
Devant ces voyageurs, pour lesquels est ouvert
L'empire familier des ténèbres futures.

Gypsies Traveling

The prophetical tribe, that ardent eyed people,
Set out last night, carrying their children
On their backs, or yielding to those fierce appetites
The ever ready treasure of pendulous breasts.

The men travel on foot with their gleaming weapons
Alongside the wagons where their kin are huddled,
Surveying the heavens with eyes rendered heavy
By a mournful regret for vanished illusions.

The cricket from the depths of his sandy retreat
Watches them as they pass, and louder grows his song;
Cybele, who loves them, increases her verdure,

Makes the desert blossom, water spurt from the rock
Before these travelers for whom is opened wide
The familiar domain of the future's darkness.


— Translated by William Aggeler

Gipsies on the Road

The tribe of seers, last night, began its match
With burning eyes, and shouldering its young
To whose ferocious appetites it swung
The wealth of hanging breasts that nought can parch.

The men, their weapons glinting in the rays,
Walk by the convoy where their folks are carted,
Sweeping the far-off skylines with a gaze
Regretful of Chimeras long-departed.

Out of his hole the cricket sees them pass
And sings the louder. Greener grows the grass
Because Cybele loves them, and has made

The barren rock to gush, the sands to flower,
To greet these travellers, before whose power
Familiar futures open realms of shade.


— Translated by Roy Campbell

The Gypsies

They set out yesterday, the tribe of ragged seers
With burning eyes — bearing their little ones in nests
Upon their backs, or giving them, to stop their tears,
The teats of inexhaustible and swarthy breasts.

The men walk shouldering their rifles silently
Beside the hooded wagons with bright tatters hung,
And peer into the sky, as if they hoped to see
Some old mirage that beckoned them when they were young.

No matter where they journey through the meager land,
The cricket will sing louder from his lair of sand,
And Cybele, who loves them, will smile where they advance:

The desert will be fruitful, the arid rock will flow
Before the footsteps of these wayfarers, who go
Eternally into the lightless realm of chance.


— Translated by George Dillon


Travelling Bohemians

The prophetic tribe of the ardent eyes
Yesterday they took the road, holding their babies
On their backs, delivering to fierce appetites
The always ready treasure of pendulous breasts.

The men stick their feet out, waving their guns
Alongside the caravan where they tremble together,
Scanning the sky their eyes are weighted down
In mourning for absent chimeras.

At the bottom of his sandy retreat, a cricket
Watched passing, redoubles his song,
Cybele, who loves, adds more flower,

Makes fountains out of rock and blossoms from desert
Opening up before these travelers in a yawn—
A familiar empire, the inscrutable future.


Translated by William A. Sigler

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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