by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
Translation © by Charles Hopkins (1952 - 2007)

L'irrémédiable
Language: French (Français) 
Une Idée, une Forme, un Être
Parti de l'azur et tombé
Dans un Styx bourbeux et plombé
Où nul œil du Ciel ne pénètre ;

Un Ange, imprudent voyageur
Qu'a tenté l'amour du difforme,
Au fond d'un cauchemar énorme
Se débattant comme un nageur,

Et luttant, angoisses funèbres !
Contre un gigantesque remous
Qui va chantant comme les fous
Et pirouettant dans les ténèbres ;

Un malheureux ensorcelé
Dans ses tâtonnements futiles,
Pour fuir d'un lieu plein de reptiles,
Cherchant la lumière et la clé ;

Un damné descendant sans lampe,
Au bord d'un gouffre dont l'odeur
Trahit l'humide profondeur,
D'éternels escaliers sans rampe,

Où veillent des monstres visqueux
Dont les larges yeux de phosphore
Font une nuit plus noire encore
Et ne rendent visibles qu'eux ;

Un navire pris dans le pôle,
Comme en un piège de cristal,
Cherchant par quel détroit fatal
Il est tombé dans cette geôle :

- Emblèmes nets, tableau parfait
D'une fortune irrémédiable,
Qui donne à penser que le Diable
Fait toujours bien tout ce qu'il fait !

Tête-à-tête sombre et limpide
Qu'un cœur devenu son miroir !
Puits de Vérité, clair et noir,
Où tremble une étoile livide,

Un phare ironique, infernal,
Flambeau des grâces sataniques,
Soulagement et gloire uniques,
- La conscience dans le Mal !

Confirmed with L'Artiste, Nouvelle Série - Tome X, Paris: L'Artiste, 1860, pages 106-107. Also confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, pages 148-150. Punctuation and formatting follows first publication. Note: this poem is split into two sections in the 1861 and 1868 editions. The second section is comprised of the last two stanzas.

First published May 10, 1857 in L'Artiste as "L'Irrémédiable". Also appears as number 64 in the 1857 edition of Les Fleurs du mal and in subsequent editions as either number 84 or 106; the title in all editions of Les Fleurs du mal is "L'Irremédiable". The 1857 title is preferred as to follow modern French spelling conventions.

Note: The 1857 edition of Les Fleurs du mal uses the spelling variant "Emblêmes" instead of "Emblèmes" in line 31. The 1857 and 1861 editions of Les Fleurs du mal use the spelling variant "irremédiable" instead of "irrémédiable" in lines 31 and 32.


Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Charles Hopkins) , "The Irremediable", written 2002, first published 2002, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Charles Hopkins) , "The Irremediable", written c2005, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
The Irremediable
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
 An Idea, a Form, a Being
 Parted from the azure and fallen
 Into a muddy, leaden Styx
 Where no eye of Heaven penetrates;

 An Angel, an unwary traveller
 Drawn by a fascination with the grotesque,
 Thrashing about like a swimmer
 In the deep throes of a vast nightmare,

 And struggling, in deathly anguish,
 Against the force of a gigantic mælstrom
 Which carries on hissing like a madman
 And swirling about in the gloom;

 A poor wretch under the evil eye
 Groping around in desperation
 To escape from a place crawling with serpents,
 Searching in vain for the light and the key;

 A condemned man without a lamp making his way down
 Along the edge of an abyss whose choking stench
 Betrays the dank depth,
 Of its unending banisterless stairways,

 Where slimy monsters keep watch[,]
 Their great phosphorescent eyes
 Making the night blacker still
 And making nothing but themselves visible;

 A ship held fast in the arctic ice,
 As if in a web of crystal,
 Trying to find by which fatal strait
 He came to be imprisoned in this gaol;

 Clear symbols, a complete picture
 Of an irremediable destiny,
 Which leads one to think that the Devil
 Always makes a good job of whatever he does!

 What a sombre and lucid exchange takes place
 In a heart that has become its own mirror!
 A well of Truth, clear yet black,
 Where trembles a pallid star,

 An ironic, infernal beacon,
 A torch of satanic favours,
 Unique deliverance and glory,
 - Consciousness in Evil!

Confirmed with an original Microsoft Word Document provided by Alistair Hinton. Note: a stanza break was missing in the source text after line 4 but was added above.


Authorship

Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

    [ None yet in the database ]


Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]