by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
Translation © by Emily Wyatt

Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
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 Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal, Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1861, in Spleen et Idéal, pages 178-179. Note: this was number 79 in the 1861 edition of Les Fleurs du mal but number 81 in subsequent editions.


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

This text was added to the website: 2009-08-23
Line count: 14
Word count: 121

Language: English  after the French (Français) 
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 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: 2012-10-09
Line count: 14
Word count: 115