Three songs of Baudelaire

by Robert Montfort (d. 1941)

Word count: 330
Original language: Trois poèmes de Baudelaire
1. Obsession [sung text not yet checked]
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.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

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.


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
1. Obsession
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.

Authorship

  • 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) com

    If you wish to commission a new translation, please contact:

Based on

Go to the single-text view


This text was added to the website: 2012-10-09
Line count: 14
Word count: 115

Translation © by Emily Wyatt
2. Vie antérieure [sung text not yet checked]
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.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Haasz) , "Předchozí život"
  • 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", appears in As Flores do Mal
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Juan Henríquez Concepción) , "La vida anterior", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)

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"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
2. Former life
For a long time I lived beneath the immense porticoes
That the sea-suns dyed with a thousand rays,
And whose great columns, erect and majestic,
At night seemed just like basalt grottoes.

The rolling waves tossing the celestial images
Blended in a solemn and mystic way
The all-powerful chords of their rich music
Coloured like the sunset reflected in my eyes

It is there, there that I lived in tranquil luxury
In the midst of the azure, the waves and the wonders,
And the nude slaves imbued with fragrance

Who refreshed my brow with palm leaves,
And whose sole purpose was to understand in depth
the agonising secret that made me suffer.

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © by Dann Mitton, (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.
    Contact: 

Based on

Translations of titles:
"La vie antérieure" = "The former life"
"Vie antérieure" = "Former life"



This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 112

Translation © by Dann Mitton
3. Correspondances [sung text not yet checked]
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles ;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent,
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
-- Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

Authorship

See other settings of this text.

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

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Haasz) , "Shody"
  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Goll) , "Souzvuky"
  • ENG English (Emily Wyatt) , "Correspondences", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Charles Hopkins) , "Correlatives", written 2002, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Charles Hopkins) , "Correlatives", written c2005, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Cyril Meir Scott) , "Echoes", appears in The Flowers of Evil, first published 1909
  • HUN Hungarian (Magyar) (Tamás Rédey) , "Kapcsolódások", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • POR Portuguese (Português) (Delfim Guimarães) , "Correspondências", appears in As Flores do Mal

Confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, pages 19-20. Also confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1861, pages 15-16. Also confirmed with Œuvres complètes de Charles Baudelaire, vol. I : Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Michel Lévy frères, 1868, page 92. Punctuation and formatting follows 1857 edition.


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]
by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
3. Correspondences
Nature is a temple where living pillars
At times give voice to indistinct words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which watch him with familiar gazes.

Like long echoes which from a distance blend together
In a mysterious and profound unity,
Vast as the night and as the light,
The fragrances, the colours and the sounds answer each other.

There are fragrances fresh as the flesh of children,
Sweet as oboes, green as meadows,
-- And others, corrupt, rich and triumphant,

With the growth of infinite things,
Like amber, musk, benjamin and incense,
Which sing the raptures of the spirit and the senses.

Authorship

  • 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) com

    If you wish to commission a new translation, please contact:

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2012-10-09
Line count: 14
Word count: 103

Translation © by Emily Wyatt