by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
Translation © by Corinne Orde

Réversibilité
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG ITA
Ange plein de gaieté, connaissez-vous l'angoisse,
La honte, les remords, les [sanglots]1, les ennuis,
Et les vagues terreurs de ces affreuses nuits
Qui compriment le cœur comme un papier qu'on froisse ?
Ange plein de gaieté, connaissez-vous l'angoisse ?

Ange plein de bonté, connaissez-vous la haine,
Les poings crispés dans l'ombre, et les larmes de fiel,
Quand la Vengeance bat son infernal rappel,
Et de nos facultés se fait le capitaine ?
Ange plein de bonté, connaissez-vous la haine ?

Ange plein de santé, connaissez-vous les Fièvres,
Qui, le long des grands murs de l'hospice blafard,
Comme des exilés, s'en vont d'un pied traînard,
Cherchant le soleil rare, et remuant les lèvres ?
Ange plein de santé, connaissez-vous les Fièvres ?

Ange plein de beauté, connaissez-vous les rides,
Et la peur de vieillir, et ce hideux tourment
De lire la secrète horreur du dévouement
Dans [des]2 yeux où longtemps burent nos yeux avides ?
Ange plein de beauté, connaissez-vous les rides ?

Ange plein de bonheur, de joie et de lumières,
David mourant aurait demandé la santé
Aux émanations de ton corps enchanté !
-- Mais de toi je n'implore, ange, que tes prières,
Ange plein de bonheur, de joie et de lumières !

L. Vierne sets stanzas 1-2, 4-5

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Revue des Deux Mondes, seconde série de la nouvelle période, tome dixième, Les Fleurs du mal, Paris: Bureau de la Revue des Deux Mondes, 1855, pages 1087-1088. Also confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, pages 94-95. Punctuation and formatting follows 1855 edition, with the exception of the spelling "gaîté" in lines 1 and 5, which has been changed to "gaieté".

First published in Revue des Deux Mondes, seconde série de la nouvelle période, tome dixième, 1855. Also appears in Les Fleurs du mal as number 40 in the 1857 edition and 44 or 45 in subsequent editions.

1 Vierne: "regrets"
2 Vierne: "les"

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 (Corinne Orde) , "Reversibility", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "Reversibilità", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Geoffrey Wieting , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
Reversibility
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Angel full of gaiety, do you know the anguish,
The shame, the remorse, the regrets, the troubles,
And the vague terrors of those awful nights
That crush the heart like a scrunched up piece of paper?
Angel full of gaiety, do you know anguish?

Angel full of goodness, do you know the hatred,
The clenched fists in the shadow and the bitter tears
When vengeance beats its infernal call to arms
And makes itself the commander of our faculties?
Angel full of goodness, do you know hatred?







Angel full of beauty, do you know the wrinkles,
And the fear of growing old, and that hideous torment
Of reading the secret horror of devotion
In those eyes where our eager eyes drank for so long?
Angel full of beauty, do you know of wrinkles?

Angel full of happiness, joy and light,
The dying David would have asked for health
When presented with the emanations from your enchanted body;
But from you, angel, I beg only your prayers,
Angel full of happiness, joy and of light.

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2007 by Corinne Orde, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.
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