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The Spike Victoria University College Review 1944

Three Poems by Charles Baudelaire

page 19

Three Poems by Charles Baudelaire


The Gulf

Pascal had his gulf—a gulf that moved at his side,
—Alas! The abyss is everywhere—in deed, in desire,
In dream, In word ! And over my head which
I once again hold high
I have felt the wind of fear passing many a time.

Above, below on all sides are the depths, the seashore
Silence and the void that terrifies and enchants
On the background of my nights, God's cunning finger draws
A nightmare that ever changes its form and never relents.

I am frightened of sleep like a man who shrinks from a cave
Full of obscure horror, leading he knows not where
And out of every window I see but the infinite.

By giddiness always haunted, my spirit is jealous of
Nothingness that does not know and does not have to suffer
—Ah! not to go forth ever from the Numbers and the Beings.


With eyes fast closed on a hot night of autumn
As I breath in the scent of your warm breast
I see the happy shores unfold themselves
Where blaze the fires of an unaltering sun.

A lazy isle where nature lavishes
Delectable fruits and new fantastic trees
Men who have bodies vigorous and lean,
A startling freedom in the womens' eyes.

Your fragrance guiding to enchanting regions
I see a harbour full of masts and sails
Still weary from the fury of the waves.

Meanwhile the perfume of green tamarinds
Which spreads upon the air and fills the nostrils
Is mingled in my soul with sailors' songs

page 20


"From these strange and livid skies
A nguished as your destiny
What thoughts upon your empty soul
Descend, O.libertine?"

Consumed by never sated greed
For the dark uncertainties
I am no Ovid who will mourn
Lost Latin paradise.

O lacerated firmament
You mirror well my pride!
Funereal and vast, your clouds

Are hearses for my dreams,
Your lustre is the glow of fires
In hell where is my joy.

Translation by Hubert Witheford