Charles Baudelaire

(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

L'Idéal (The Ideal) - Poem by Charles Baudelaire

Ce ne seront jamais ces beautés de vignettes,
Produits avariés, nés d'un siècle vaurien,
Ces pieds à brodequins, ces doigts à castagnettes,
Qui sauront satisfaire un coeur comme le mien.

Je laisse à Gavarni, poète des chloroses,
Son troupeau gazouillant de beautés d'hôpital,
Car je ne puis trouver parmi ces pâles roses
Une fleur qui ressemble à mon rouge idéal.

Ce qu'il faut à ce coeur profond comme un abîme,
C'est vous, Lady Macbeth, âme puissante au crime,
Rêve d'Eschyle éclos au climat des autans;

Ou bien toi, grande Nuit, fille de Michel-Ange,
Qui tors paisiblement dans une pose étrange
Tes appas façonnés aux bouches des Titans!

The Ideal

It will never be the beauties that vignettes show, Those damaged products of a good-for-nothing age,
Their feet shod with high shoes, hands holding castanets,
Who can ever satisfy any heart like mine.

I leave to Gavarni, poet of chlorosis,
His prattling troop of consumptive beauties,
For I cannot find among those pale roses
A flower that is like my red ideal.

The real need of my heart, profound as an abyss,
Is you, Lady Macbeth, soul so potent in crime,
The dream of Aeschylus, born in the land of storms;

Or you, great Night, daughter of Michelangelo,
Who calmly contort, reclining in a strange pose
Your charms molded by the mouths of Titans!

— Translated by William Aggeler

The Ideal

It's not with smirking beauties of vignettes,
The shopsoiled products of a worthless age,
With buskined feet and hands for castanets —
A heart like mine its longing could assuage.

I leave Gavarni, poet of chloroses,
His twittering flock, anaemic and unreal.
I could not find among such bloodless roses,
A flower to match my crimson-hued ideal.

To this heart deeper than the deepest canyon,
Lady Macbeth would be a fit companion,
Crime-puissant dream of Aeschylus; or you,

Daughter of Buonarroti, stately Night!
Whose charms to suit a Titan's appetite,
You twist, so strange, yet peaceful, to the view.

— Translated by Roy Campbell

The Ideal

No beauties such as figure in vignettes,
Monsters of a vain era's lame design,
With feet for buskins, hands for castanets,
Can ever satisfy a heart like mine.
I leave to Gavarni's chlorotic Muse
These sickly prattling nymphs, however real;
Not one of these pale roses would I choose
To match the flowers of my red ideal.

What my heart, deep as an abyss, demands,
Lady Macbeth, is your brave bloody hands,
And, Aeschylus, your dreams of rage and fright,
Or you, vast Night, daughter of Angelo's,
Who peacefully twist into a strange pose
Charms fashioned for a Titan's mouth to bite.

— Translated by Jacques LeClercq


'twill be no lovely girls of our vignettes
— spoiled fruits our worthless epoch deems divine —
slim slippered feet, hands made for castagnettes,
that shall content this questing heart of mine.

I leave to great Gavarni, bard of blight,
his prattling beauties with their frail appeal.
I cannot find among his roses white
the flaming flower of my red ideal.

I crave, to fill my heart's abyss of death,
thy passion, fair and merciless Macbeth,
whom Aeschylus might not have dreamed in boreal snows;

or thine, great Night, in Bunarroti's South,
tranquilly turning in a monstrous pose
thy bosom fashioned by a Titan's mouth!

— Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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