Treasure Island

Charles Baudelaire

(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

Le Poison (The Poison)


Le vin sait revêtir le plus sordide bouge
D'un luxe miraculeux,
Et fait surgir plus d'un portique fabuleux
Dans l'or de sa vapeur rouge,
Comme un soleil couchant dans un ciel nébuleux.

L'opium agrandit ce qui n'a pas de bornes,
Allonge l'illimité,
Approfondit le temps, creuse la volupté,
Et de plaisirs noirs et mornes
Remplit l'âme au delà de sa capacité.

Tout cela ne vaut pas le poison qui découle
De tes yeux, de tes yeux verts,
Lacs où mon âme tremble et se voit à l'envers...
Mes songes viennent en foule
Pour se désaltérer à ces gouffres amers.

Tout cela ne vaut pas le terrible prodige
De ta salive qui mord,
Qui plonge dans l'oubli mon âme sans remords,
Et charriant le vertige,
La roule défaillante aux rives de la mort!

Poison

Wine knows how to adorn the most sordid hovel
With marvelous luxury
And make more than one fabulous portal appear
In the gold of its red mist
Like a sun setting in a cloudy sky.

Opium magnifies that which is limitless,
Lengthens the unlimited,
Makes time deeper, hollows out voluptuousness,
And with dark, gloomy pleasures
Fills the soul beyond its capacity.

All that is not equal to the poison which flows
From your eyes, from your green eyes,
Lakes where my soul trembles and sees its evil side...
My dreams come in multitude
To slake their thirst in those bitter gulfs.

All that is not equal to the awful wonder
Of your biting saliva,
Charged with madness, that plunges my remorseless soul
Into oblivion
And rolls it in a swoon to the shores of death.


— Translated by William Aggeler

Poisons

Wine can conceal a sordid room
In rich, miraculous disguise,
And make such porticoes arise
Out of its flushed and crimson fume
As makes the sunset in the skies.

Opium the infinite enlarges,
And lengthens all that is past measure.
It deepens time, and digs its treasure,
With sad, black raptures it o'ercharges
The soul, and surfeits it with pleasure.

Neither are worth the drug so strong
That you distil from your green eyes,
Lakes where I see my soul capsize
Head downwards: and where, in one throng,
I slake my dreams, and quench my sighs.

But to your spittle these seem naught —
It stings and burns. It steeps my thought
And spirit in oblivious gloom,
And, in its dizzy onrush caught,
Dashes it on the shores of doom.


— Translated by Roy Campbell

Le Poison

wine clothes the sordid walls of hovels old
with pomp no palace knows,
evokes long peristyles in pillared rows
from vaporous red and gold;
like sunset with her cloud-built porticoes.

and opium widens all that has no bourn
in its unbounded sea;
moments grow hours, pleasures cease to be
in souls that, overworn,
drown in its black abyss of lethargy.

dread poisons, but more dread the poisoned well
of thy green eyes accurst;
tarns where I watch my trembling soul, reversed
my dreams innumerable
throng to those bitter gulfs to slake their thirst.

dread magic, but thy mouth more dread than these:
its wine and hellebore
burn, floods of Lethe, in my bosom's core,
till winds of madness seize
and dash me swooning on Death's barren shore!


— Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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