2016年8月31日 星期三

"The Voyage" by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire died #OnThisDay in 1867. He appears in Edouard Manet's 'Music in the Tuileries Gardens', Manet's first major work depicting modern city life. The painting hangs in Room 41:http://bit.ly/1X0af6s

Charles Pierre Baudelaire died in Paris, France on this day in 1867 (aged 46). He is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse, Paris.
"The Voyage" by Charles Baudelaire
(To Maxime du Camp)
To a child who is fond of maps and engravings
The universe is the size of his immense hunger.
Ah! how vast is the world in the light of a lamp!
In memory's eyes how small the world is!
One morning we set out, our brains aflame,
Our hearts full of resentment and bitter desires,
And we go, following the rhythm of the wave,
Lulling our infinite on the finite of the seas:
Some, joyful at fleeing a wretched fatherland;
Others, the horror of their birthplace; a few,
Astrologers drowned in the eyes of some woman,
Some tyrannic Circe with dangerous perfumes.
Not to be changed into beasts, they get drunk
With space, with light, and with fiery skies;
The ice that bites them, the suns that bronze them,
Slowly efface the bruise of the kisses.
But the true voyagers are only those who leave
Just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons,
They never turn aside from their fatality
And without knowing why they always say: "Let's go!"
Those whose desires have the form of the clouds,
And who, as a raw recruit dreams of the cannon,
Dream of vast voluptuousness, changing and strange,
Whose name the human mind has never known!
Horror! We imitate the top and bowling ball,
Their bounding and their waltz; even in our slumber
Curiosity torments us, rolls us about,
Like a cruel Angel who lashes suns.
Singular destiny where the goal moves about,
And being nowhere can be anywhere!
Toward which Man, whose hope never grows weary,
Is ever running like a madman to find rest!
Our soul's a three-master seeking Icaria;
A voice resounds upon the bridge: "Keep a sharp eye!"
From aloft a voice, ardent and wild, cries:
"Love... glory... happiness!" �Damnation! It's a shoal!
Every small island sighted by the man on watch
Is the Eldorado promised by Destiny;
Imagination preparing for her orgy
Finds but a reef in the light of the dawn.
O the poor lover of imaginary lands!
Must he be put in irons, thrown into the sea,
That drunken tar, inventor of Americas,
Whose mirage makes the abyss more bitter?
Thus the old vagabond tramping through the mire
Dreams with his nose in the air of brilliant Edens;
His enchanted eye discovers a Capua
Wherever a candle lights up a hut.
Astonishing voyagers! What splendid stories
We read in your eyes as deep as the seas!
Show us the chest of your rich memories,
Those marvelous jewels, made of ether and stars.
We wish to voyage without steam and without sails!
To brighten the ennui of our prisons,
Make your memories, framed in their horizons,
Pass across our minds stretched like canvasses.
Tell us what you have seen.
"We have seen stars
And waves; we have also seen sandy wastes;
And in spite of many a shock and unforeseen
Disaster, we were often bored, as we are here.
The glory of sunlight upon the purple sea,
The glory of cities against the setting sun,
Kindled in our hearts a troubling desire
To plunge into a sky of alluring colors.
The richest cities, the finest landscapes,
Never contained the mysterious attraction
Of the ones that chance fashions from the clouds
And desire was always making us more avid!
— Enjoyment fortifies desire.
Desire, old tree fertilized by pleasure,
While your bark grows thick and hardens,
Your branches strive to get closer to the sun!
Will you always grow, tall tree more hardy
Than the cypress? — However, we have carefully
Gathered a few sketches for your greedy album,
Brothers who think lovely all that comes from afar!
We have bowed to idols with elephantine trunks;
Thrones studded with luminous jewels;
Palaces so wrought that their fairly-like splendor
Would make your bankers have dreams of ruination;
And costumes that intoxicate the eyes;
Women whose teeth and fingernails are dyed
And clever mountebanks whom the snake caresses."
And then, and then what else?
"O childish minds!
Not to forget the most important thing,
We saw everywhere, without seeking it,
From the foot to the top of the fatal ladder,
The wearisome spectacle of immortal sin:
Woman, a base slave, haughty and stupid,
Adoring herself without laughter or disgust;
Man, a greedy tyrant, ribald, hard and grasping,
A slave of the slave, a gutter in the sewer;
The hangman who feels joy and the martyr who sobs,
The festival that blood flavors and perfumes;
The poison of power making the despot weak,
And the people loving the brutalizing whip;
Several religions similar to our own,
All climbing up to heaven; Saintliness
Like a dilettante who sprawls in a feather bed,
Seeking voluptuousness on horsehair and nails;
Prating humanity, drunken with its genius,
And mad now as it was in former times,
Crying to God in its furious death-struggle:
'O my fellow, O my master, may you be damned!'
The less foolish, bold lovers of Madness,
Fleeing the great flock that Destiny has folded,
Taking refuge in opium's immensity!
— That's the unchanging report of the entire globe."
Bitter is the knowledge one gains from voyaging!
The world, monotonous and small, today,
Yesterday, tomorrow, always, shows us our image:
An oasis of horror in a desert of ennui!
Must one depart? Remain? If you can stay, remain;
Leave, if you must. One runs, another hides
To elude the vigilant, fatal enemy,
Time! There are, alas! those who rove without respite,
Like the Wandering Jew and like the Apostles,
Whom nothing suffices, neither coach nor vessel,
To flee this infamous retiary; and others
Who know how to kill him without leaving their cribs.
And when at last he sets his foot upon our spine,
We can hope and cry out: Forward!
Just as in other times we set out for China,
Our eyes fixed on the open sea, hair in the wind,
We shall embark on the sea of Darkness
With the glad heart of a young traveler.
Do you hear those charming, melancholy voices
Singing: "Come this way! You who wish to eat
The perfumed Lotus! It's here you gather
The miraculous fruits for which your heart hungers;
Come and get drunken with the strange sweetness
Of this eternal afternoon?"
By the familiar accent we know the specter;
Our Pylades yonder stretch out their arms towards us.
"To refresh your heart swim to your Electra!"
Cries she whose knees we kissed in other days.
O Death, old captain, it is time! let's weigh anchor!
This country wearies us, O Death! Let us set sail!
Though the sea and the sky are black as ink,
Our hearts which you know well are filled with rays of light
Pour out your poison that it may refresh us!
This fire burns our brains so fiercely, we wish to plunge
To the abyss' depths, Heaven or Hell, does it matter?
To the depths of the Unknown to find something new!"
Modern poetry begins with Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), who employed his unequalled technical mastery to create the shadowy, desperately dramatic urban landscape -- populated by the addicted and the damned -- which so compellingly mirrors our modern condition. Deeply though darkly spiritual, titanic in the changes he wrought, Baudelaire looms over all the work, great and small, created in his wake. READ more here:http://knopfdoubleday.com/book/9617/baudelaire-poems/