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

Le balcon
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): CAT ENG SPA
Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses,
-- Ô toi, tous mes plaisirs ! ô toi, tous mes devoirs ! --
Tu te rappelleras la beauté des caresses,
La douceur du foyer et le charme des soirs,
Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses !

Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon,
Et les soirs au balcon, voilés de [vapeurs roses]1 ;
Que ton sein m'était doux ! que ton cœur m'était bon !
Nous avons dit souvent d'impérissables choses
Les soirs illuminés par l'ardeur du charbon.

Que les soleils sont beaux par les chaudes soirées !
Que l'espace est profond ! que le cœur est puissant !
En me penchant vers toi, reine des adorées,
Je croyais respirer le parfum de ton sang.
Que les soleils sont beaux par les chaudes soirées !

La nuit s'épaississait ainsi qu'une cloison,
Et mes yeux dans le noir devinaient tes prunelles,
Et je buvais ton souffle, ô douceur, ô poison !
Et tes pieds s'endormaient dans mes mains fraternelles ;
La nuit s'épaississait ainsi qu'une cloison.

Je sais l'art d'évoquer les minutes heureuses,
Et revis mon passé blotti dans tes genoux.
Car à quoi bon chercher tes beautés langoureuses
Ailleurs qu'en ton cher corps et qu'en ton cœur si doux ?
Je sais l'art d'évoquer les minutes heureuses !

Ces serments, ces parfums, ces baisers infinis,
Renaîtront-ils d'un gouffre interdit à nos sondes,
Comme montent au ciel les soleils rajeunis
Après s'être lavés au fond des mers profondes ?
-- Ô serments ! ô parfums ! ô baisers infinis !

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, pages 81-82. Also confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1861, pages 82-83. Also confirmed with Œuvres complètes de Charles Baudelaire, vol. I : Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Michel Lévy frères, 1868, page 137-138. Punctuation and formatting follows 1857 edition. Note: this was number 34 in the 1857 edition of Les Fleurs du mal but 36 or 37 in subsequent editions.

First published May 17, 1857 in Journal d'Alençon.

1 C. Debussy: "vapeur rose"

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):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) [singable] (Núria Colomer) , "El balcó", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Haasz) , "Balkon"
  • ENG English (Peter Low) , "The balcony", copyright © 2001, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Cyril Meir Scott) , "The Balcony", appears in The Flowers of Evil, London, Elkin Mathews, first published 1909
  • HUN Hungarian (Magyar) (Árpád Tóth) , "A balkon"
  • ROM Romanian (Română) (Alexandru I. Philippide) , "Balconul"
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Victor Torres) , "El balcón", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 30
Word count: 253

The balcony
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses,
you who are all my pleasures and all my duties,
you will remember the beauty of our caresses,
the sweetness of the hearth, the charm of the evenings,
mother of memories, mistress of mistresses.

On evenings lit by the glowing coal-fire
and evenings on the balcony, veiled with pink mist,
how soft your breast was, how kind to me was your heart!
Often we said imperishable things
on evenings lit by the glowing coal-fire.

How beautiful the sun is on warm evenings!
How deep is space! How powerful the human heart!
As I leant over you, oh queen of all adored ones,
I thought I was breathing the fragrance of your blood.
How beautiful the sun is on warm evenings!

The night would thicken like a wall around us,
and in the dark my eyes would make out yours,
and I would drink your breath, oh sweetness, oh poison!
And your feet would fall asleep in my brotherly hands.
The night would thicken like a wall around us.

I know how to evoke the moments of happiness,
I relive my past, nestling my head on your lap.
For why would I seek your languid beauties anywhere
except in your dear body and your oh-so-gentle heart?
I know how to evoke the moments of happiness!

Will those sweet words, those perfumes, those infinite kisses
be reborn from a chasm deeper than we may fathom
like suns that rise rejuvenated into the sky
after cleansing themselves in the oceans' depths?
Oh sweet words, oh perfumes, oh infinite kisses!

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 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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Based on

 

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 30
Word count: 262