Friday, November 25, 2011

Alchimie de la douleur

Alchimie de la douleur

L'un t'éclaire avec son ardeur,
L'autre en toi met son deuil, Nature!
Ce qui dit à l'un: Sépulture!
Dit à l'autre: Vie et splendeur!

Hermès inconnu qui m'assistes
Et qui toujours m'intimidas,
Tu me rends l'égal de Midas,
Le plus triste des alchimistes;

Par toi je change l'or en fer
Et le paradis en enfer;
Dans le suaire des nuages

Je découvre un cadavre cher,
Et sur les célestes rivages
Je bâtis de grands sarcophages.

— Charles Baudelaire

The Alchemy of Sorrow

One man lights you with his ardor,
Another puts you in mourning, Nature!
That which says to one: sepulcher!
Says to another: life! glory!

You have always frightened me,
Hermes the unknown, you who help me.
You make me the peer of Midas,
The saddest of all alchemists;

Through you I change gold to iron
And make of paradise a hell;
In the winding sheet of the clouds

I discover a beloved corpse,
And on the celestial shores
I build massive sarcophagi.

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

Alchemy of Sorrow

One puts all nature into mourning,
One lights her like a flaring sun —
What whispers "Burial" to the one
Cries to the other, "Life and Morning."

The unknown Hermes who assists
The role of Midas to reverse,
And makes me by a subtle curse
The saddest of all alchemists —

By him, my paradise to hell,
And gold to slag, is changed too well.
The clouds are winding-sheets, and I,

Bidding some dear-loved corpse farewell,
Along the shore-line of the sky,
Erect my vast sarcophagi.

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

Alchimie de la douleur

one lights thee with his flame, another
puts in thee — Nature! — all his gloom!
what says to this man: lo! the tomb!
cries: life and splendour! to his brother.

o mage unknown whose powers assist
my art, and whom I always fear,
thou makest me a Midas — peer
of that most piteous alchemist;

for 'tis through thee I turn my gold
to iron, and in heaven behold
my hell: beneath her cloud-palls I

uncover corpses loved of old;
and where the shores celestial die
I carve vast tombs against the sky.

— Lewis Piaget Shanks, Flowers of Evil (New York: Ives Washburn, 1931)