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Grands bois, vous m'effrayez comme des cathédrales ; Vous hurlez comme l'orgue ; et dans nos cœurs maudits, Chambres d'éternel deuil où vibrent de vieux râles, Répondent les échos de vos De profundis. Je te hais, Océan ! tes bonds et tes tumultes, Mon esprit les retrouve en lui ; ce rire amer De l'homme vaincu, plein de sanglots et d'insultes, Je l'entends dans le rire énorme de la mer. Comme tu me plairais, ô nuit ! sans ces étoiles Dont la lumière parle un langage connu ! Car je cherche le vide, et le noir, et le nu ! Mais les ténèbres sont elles-mêmes des toiles Où vivent, jaillissant de mon œil par milliers, Des êtres disparus aux regards familiers.
Confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1861, pages 178-179. Note: this was number 79 in the 1861 edition of Les Fleurs du mal but number 81 in subsequent editions.
- by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), "Obsession", appears in Les Fleurs du mal, in 1. Spleen et Idéal, no. 79, Paris, Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, first published 1861 [author's text checked 2 times against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
- by Gérard Bertouille (1898 - 1981), "Obsession", 1940 [ soprano or tenor and piano ], from Trois poèmes de Baudelaire, no. 3 [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]
- by Gordon Kerry (b. 1961), "Obsession", 1985 [ voice and piano ], from Obsessions, no. 3 [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]
- by Robert Montfort (d. 1941), "Obsession", published  [ high voice and piano ], from Trois poèmes de Baudelaire, no. 1 [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]
- by Eugène Saeys , "Obsession" [ medium voice and piano ] [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]
Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:
- Also set in Russian (Русский), a translation by Lev L'vovich Kobylinsky (1889 - 1947) ENG ENG ENG POR ; composed by Sergei Ivanovich Taneyev.
Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):
- ENG English (Emily Wyatt) , "Obsession", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
- ENG English (Cyril Meir Scott) , "Obsession", appears in The Flowers of Evil, first published 1909
- POR Portuguese (Português) (Delfim Guimarães) , "Obsessão "
Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
Great woods, you terrify me like cathedrals; You bellow like the organ; and in our accursed hearts, Rooms of eternal mourning where old death-rattles throb, Respond the echoes of your De Profundis. I hate you, Ocean! your leaping and your tumult, My spirit recognises them within itself; that bitter laughter Of the beaten man, full of sobs and insults, I hear it in the enormous laughter of the sea. How you would please me, o night! without those stars Whose light speaks a language I understand! Because I seek emptiness, and blackness, and nakedness! But the darkness is itself a canvas Where, springing from my eye by the thousands, live Vanished beings with familiar looks.
- Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2012 by Emily Wyatt, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you must ask the copyright-holder(s) directly for permission. If you receive no response, you must consider it a refusal.
Emily Wyatt.  Contact: cobbsquint (AT) gmail (DOT) comIf you wish to commission a new translation, please contact:
- a text in French (Français) by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), "Obsession", appears in Les Fleurs du mal, in 1. Spleen et Idéal, no. 79, Paris, Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, first published 1861