by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
Translation © by Peter Low

J'ai long‑temps habité sous de vastes...
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG ENG FIN GER ITA SPA
J'ai long-temps habité sous de vastes portiques
Que les soleils marins teignaient de mille feux,
Et que leurs grands piliers, droits et majestueux,
Rendaient pareils, le soir, aux grottes basaltiques.

Les houles, en roulant les images des cieux,
Mêlaient d'une façon solennelle et mystique
Les tout puissants accords de leur riche musique
Aux couleurs du couchant reflété par mes yeux.

C'est là que j'ai vécu dans les voluptés calmes,
Au milieu de l'azur, [des flots et des]1 splendeurs,
Et des esclaves nus, tout imprégnés d'odeurs,

Qui me rafraîchissaient le front avec des palmes,
Et dont l'unique soin était d'approfondir
Le secret douloureux qui me faisait languir.

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Confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, pages 36-37. This poem was first published in 1855 as part of Revue des Deux Mondes; its first publication as part of Les Fleurs du mal was in 1857.

1 H. Duparc: "des vagues, des"

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):

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Marike Lindhout) , "Het vroegere leven", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Dann Mitton) , no title, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English [singable] (Peter Low) , "In a former life", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , "Edellinen elämä", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Nele Gramß) , "Das frühere Leben", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "La vita anteriore", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • POR Portuguese (Português) (Delfim Guimarães) , "A Vida Anterior"
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Juan Henríquez Concepción) , "La vida anterior", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
In a former life
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
For a long time I dwelt under porticoed halls
which ocean sunshine tinged with light of many flames
and whose majestic pillars standing straight and tall
made them appear at dusk like vast palatial basalt caves.

The sea-swells, as they rolled images of the skies,
combined through a solemn and mystical force
their overpowering music's sonorous chords
with the colours of sunset reflected in my eyes.

There, there is where I lived in most delicious calm,
with the blue of the sky, the splendour, the waves...
and the elegant bare-bodied sweet-scented slaves

who would refresh my heated brow with fronds of palm,
and whose only duty was to intensify
the secret malaise that made me ache and sigh.

Note: this is a singable translation for the Duparc version.

Authorship

  • Singable translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2008 by Peter Low, (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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