by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
Translation © by Corinne Orde

Les hiboux
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG SPA
Sous les ifs noirs qui les abritent,
Les hiboux se tiennent rangés,
Ainsi que des dieux étrangers,
Dardant leur œil rouge. Ils méditent.

Sans remuer ils se tiendront
Jusqu'à l'heure mélancolique
Où, poussant le soleil oblique,
Les ténèbres s'établiront.

Leur attitude au sage enseigne
Qu'il faut en ce monde qu'il craigne
Le tumulte et le mouvement ;

L'homme ivre d'une ombre qui passe
Porte toujours le châtiment
D'avoir voulu changer de place.

Confirmed with Les Fleurs du mal, Spleen et Idéal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857, pages 134-135.


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: Ted Perry , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 72

The owls
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Beneath the shelter of the dark yews
The owls stand arrayed
Like alien gods,
Red eyes blazing. They dream.

Motionless, they will remain
Until the melancholy hour
When, pushing aside the slanting sun,
Darkness takes over.

Their stance teaches the wise man
That in this world one should fear
Tumult and movement.

Intoxicated by a passing shadow,
Man forever bears the penalty
For having wanted to leave his place.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2006 by Corinne Orde, (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.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2006-10-16
Line count: 14
Word count: 69