by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
Translation © by Faith J. Cormier

La mort des artistes
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Combien faut-il de fois secouer mes grelots
Et baiser ton front bas, morne caricature ?
Pour piquer dans le but, [mystique quadrature]1,
Combien, ô mon carquois, perdre de javelots ? 

Nous userons notre âme en de subtils complots,
Et nous démolirons mainte lourde armature,
Avant de contempler la grande Créature
Dont l'infernal désir nous remplit de sanglots ! 

Il en est qui jamais n'ont connu leur Idole,
Et ces sculpteurs damnés et marqués d'un affront,
Qui vont se martelant la poitrine et le front,

N'ont qu'un espoir, étrange et sombre Capitole !
C'est que la Mort, planant comme un soleil nouveau,
Fera s'épanouir les fleurs de leur cerveau !

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, in La Mort, pages 247-248. Also confirmed with Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1861, in La Mort, pages 299-300. Also confirmed with Charles Baudelaire, Œuvres complètes de Charles Baudelaire, vol. I : Les Fleurs du mal, Paris: Michel Lévy frères, 1868, in La Mort, page 341. Punctuation follows 1857 edition. Note: this was number 100 in 1857 edition of Les Fleurs du mal but number 123 or 148 in subsequent editions.

1 1861 edition, 1868 edition, and G. Bachlund: "de mystique nature"


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):

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: 14
Word count: 109

The Death of Artists
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
How many times do I have to shake my bells
and kiss your lowly brow, dreary caricature? 
To hit the mystic target, 
how many times, my quiver, must I lose my javelin? 

We will wear out our souls in subtle plots 
and we will demolish many a heavy framework 
before we contemplate the great Creature 
whose infernal desire makes us sob! 

Some have never known their Idol, 
and these accursed, insulted sculptors, 
hammering on their breasts and brows, 

have only one hope, strange and dark Capital! 
It is that Death, hovering like a new sun, 
will make the flowers in their minds to bloom!


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2004 by Faith J. Cormier, (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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This text was added to the website: 2004-10-01
Line count: 14
Word count: 104