Monday, February 16, 2009

The Balcony

For the pleasure of it, because we are, at least, human...
Le Balcon, by Charles Baudelaire
(ca. 1856)

Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses,
Ô toi, tous mes plaisirs! ô toi, tous mes devoirs!
Tu te rappelleras la beauté des caresses,
La douceur du foyer et le charme des soirs,
Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses!

Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon,
Et les soirs au balcon, voilés de vapeurs roses.
Que ton sein m’était doux! que ton coeur m’était bon!
Nous avons dit souvent d’impérissables choses
Les soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon.

Que les soleils sont beaux dans les chaudes soirées!
Que l’espace est profond! que le coeur est puissant!
En me penchant vers toi, reine des adorées,
Je croyais respirer le parfum de ton sang.
Que les soleils sont beaux dans les chaudes soirées!

La nuit s’épaississait ainsi qu’une cloison,
Et mes yeux dans le noir devinaient tes prunelles,
Et je buvais ton souffle, ô douceur! ô poison!
Et tes pieds s’endormaient dans mes mains fraternelles.
La nuit s’épaississait ainsi qu’une cloison.

Je sais l’art d’évoquer les minutes heureuses,
Et revis mon passé blotti dans tes genoux.
Car à quoi bon chercher tes beautés langoureuses
Ailleurs qu’en ton cher corps et qu’en ton coeur si doux?
Je sais l’art d’évoquer les minutes heureuses!

Ces serments, ces parfums, ces baisers infinis,
Renaîtront-ils d’un gouffre interdit à nos sondes,
Comme montent au ciel les soleils rajeunis
Après s’être lavés au fond des mers profondes?
— Ô serments! ô parfums! ô baisers infinis!

The Balcony
(in English translation, Frank Pearce Sturm, 1906)

Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses,
O thou, my pleasure, thou, all my desire,
Thou shalt recall the beauty of caresses,
The charm of evenings by the gentle fire,
Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses!

The eves illumined by the burning coal,
The balcony where veiled rose-vapour clings —
How soft your breast was then, how sweet your soul!
Ah, and we said imperishable things,
Those eves illumined by the burning coal.

Lovely the suns were in those twilights warm,
And space profound, and strong life’s pulsing flood;
In bending o’er you, queen of every charm,
I thought I breathed the perfume of your blood.
The suns were beauteous in those twilights warm.

The film of night flowed round and over us,
And my eyes in the dark did your eyes meet;
I drank your breath, ah! sweet and poisonous,
And in my hands fraternal slept your feet —
Night, like a film, flowed round and over us.

I can recall those happy days forgot,
And see, with head bowed on your knees, my past.
Your languid beauties now would move me not
Did not your gentle heart and body cast
The old spell of those happy days forgot.

Can vows and perfume, kisses infinite,
Be reborn from the gulf we cannot sound;
As rise to heaven suns once again made bright
After being plunged in deep seas and profound?
Ah, vows and perfumes, kisses infinite!


Tahoe said...

Hi, Valtin,

Beautiful poem -- you see and feel it all.
I bumped into this and thought you might be interested in having it to peruse, as and when you can. There's a ton of material! The Moderate Voice!


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