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10 Famous Poems by Charles Baudelaire

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Charles Baudelaire and His Famous PoemsCharles Baudelaire was born in Paris on the 9th of April, 1821 in Paris in the family of a senator. When Charles was not yet six years old, his father, who was 34 years older, than his wife, died. And his mother married again. Baudelaire did not get across to his stepfather.

Charles Baudelaire entered the history of literature as the author of the poetry collection “Flowers of Evil”, published in June 1857. The book shocked the audience so much that it immediately put the censorship ban, and it was imposed to withdraw 6 Charles Baudelaire poems from the entire creation and to pay a considerable fine.

In the 1861, the second edition of “Flowers of Evil”, revised and enlarged by the author, appeared. Thirty new works were included in that edition. Baudelaire also decided to change the contents, dividing it into six chapters. Thus, the collection became a kind of autobiography of the poet.

Here's 10 poems of Charles Baudelaire you can read:

The Eyes of Beauty

You are a sky of autumn, pale and rose;
But all the sea of sadness in my blood
Surges, and ebbing, leaves my lips morose,
Salt with the memory of the bitter flood.

In vain your hand glides my faint bosom o'er,
That which you seek, beloved, is desecrate
By woman's tooth and talon; ah, no more
Seek in me for a heart which those dogs ate.

It is a ruin where the jackals rest,
And rend and tear and glut themselves and slay-
A perfume swims about your naked breast!
Beauty, hard scourge of spirits, have your way!
With flame-like eyes that at bright feasts have flared
Burn up these tatters that the beasts have spared!

Sonnet of Autumn

Hey say to me, thy clear and crystal eyes:
'Why dost thou love me so, strange lover mine?'
Be sweet, be still! My heart and soul despise
All save that antique brute-like faith of thine;

And will not bare the secret of their shame
To thee whose hand soothes me to slumbers long,
Nor their black legend write for thee in flame!
Passion I hate, a spirit does me wrong.

Let us love gently. Love, from his retreat,
Ambushed and shadowy, bends his fatal bow,
And I too well his ancient arrows know:

Crime, horror, folly. O pale marguerite,
Thou art as I, a bright sun fallen low,
O my so white, my so cold Marguerite.

The Sadness of The Moon

The Moon more indolently dreams to-night
Than a fair woman on her couch at rest,
Caressing, with a hand distraught and light,
Before she sleeps, the contour of her breast.

Upon her silken avalanche of down,
Dying she breathes a long and swooning sigh;
And watches the white visions past her flown,
Which rise like blossoms to the azure sky.

And when, at times, wrapped in her languor deep,
Earthward she lets a furtive tear-drop flow,
Some pious poet, enemy of sleep,

Takes in his hollow hand the tear of snow
Whence gleams of iris and of opal start,
And hides it from the Sun, deep in his heart.

La Cloche Fêlée (The Cracked Bell)

II est amer et doux, pendant les nuits d'hiver,
D'écouter, près du feu qui palpite et qui fume,
Les souvenirs lointains lentement s'élever
Au bruit des carillons qui chantent dans la brume.

Bienheureuse la cloche au gosier vigoureux
Qui, malgré sa vieillesse, alerte et bien portante,
Jette fidèlement son cri religieux,
Ainsi qu'un vieux soldat qui veille sous la tente!

Moi, mon âme est fêlée, et lorsqu'en ses ennuis
Elle veut de ses chants peupler l'air froid des nuits,
II arrive souvent que sa voix affaiblie

Semble le râle épais d'un blessé qu'on oublie
Au bord d'un lac de sang, sous un grand tas de morts
Et qui meurt, sans bouger, dans d'immenses efforts.

The Cracked Bell

Bitter and sweet it is on these long winter nights
To sit before the fire and watch the smoking log
Beat like a heart; and hear our lost, our mute delights
Call with the carillons that ring out in the fog.

What certitude, what health, sounds from that brazen throat,
In spite of age and rust, alert! O happy bell,
Sending into the dark your clear religious note,
Like an old soldier crying through the night, 'All's well!'

I am not thus; my soul is cracked across by care;
Its voice, that once could clang upon this icy air,
Has lost the power, it seems, — comes faintly forth, instead,

As from the rattling throat of a hurt man who lies
Beside a lake of blood, under a heap of dead,
And cannot stir, and in prodigious struggling dies.

The Lid

Whatever place he goes, on land or sea,
under a sky on fire, or a polar sun,
servant of Jesus, follower of Cytherea,
shadowy beggar, or Croesus the glittering one,
city-dweller or rustic, traveller or sedentary,
whether his tiny brain works fast or slow,
everywhere man knows the terror of mystery,
and with a trembling eye looks high or low.

Above, the Sky! That burial vault that stifles,
a ceiling lit for a comic opera, blind walls,
where each actor treads a blood-drenched stage:
Freethinkers’ fear, the hermit sets his hope on:
the Sky! The black lid of the giant cauldron,
under which we vast, invisible Beings rage.


Higher there, higher, far from the ways,
from the farms and the valleys, beyond the trees,
beyond the hills and the grasses’ haze,
far from the herd-trampled tapestries,
you discover a sombre pool in the deep
that a few bare snow-covered mountains form.

The lake, in light’s, and night’s, sublime sleep,
is never disturbed in its silent storm.
In that mournful waste, to the unsure ear,
come faint drawn-out sounds, more dead than the bell,
of some far-off cow, the echoes unclear,
as it grazes the slope, of a distant dell.

On those hills where the wind effaces all signs,
on those glaciers, fired by the sun’s pure light,
on those rocks, where dizziness threatens the mind,
in that lake’s vermilion presage of night,
under my feet, and above my head,
silence, that makes you wish to escape;
that eternal silence, of the mountainous bed
of motionless air, where everything waits.

You would say that the sky, in its loneliness,
gazed at itself in the glass, and, up there,
the mountains listened, in grave watchfulness
to the mystery nothing that’s human can hear.

And when, by chance, a wandering cloud
darkens the silent lake, moving by,
you might think that you saw some spirit’s robe,
or else its clear shadow, travelling, over the sky.

L'Homme Et La Mer (Man And The Sea)

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n'est pas un gouffre moins amer.

Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l'embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
Homme, nul n'a sondé le fond de tes abîmes;
Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!
Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables!

Man and the Sea
Translated by William Aggeler

Free man, you will always cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite unrolling of its billows;
Your mind is an abyss that is no less bitter.

You like to plunge into the bosom of your image;
You embrace it with eyes and arms, and your heart
Is distracted at times from its own clamoring
By the sound of this plaint, wild and untamable.

Both of you are gloomy and reticent:
Man, no one has sounded the depths of your being;
O Sea, no person knows your most hidden riches,
So zealously do you keep your secrets!
Yet for countless ages you have fought each other
Without pity, without remorse,
So fiercely do you love carnage and death,
O eternal fighters, implacable brothers!


With quiet heart, I climbed the hill,
from which one can see, the city, complete,
hospitals, brothels, purgatory, hell,
prison, where every sin flowers, at our feet.

You know well, Satan, patron of my distress,
I did not trudge up there to vainly weep,
but like an old man with an old mistress,
I longed to intoxicate myself, with the infernal delight
of the vast procuress, who can always make things fresh.

Whether you still sleep in the morning light,
heavy, dark, rheumatic, or whether your hands
flutter, in your pure, gold-edged veils of night,
I love you, infamous capital! Courtesans
and pimps, you often offer pleasures
the vulgar mob will never understand.

Mist And Rain

Late autumns, winters, spring-times steeped in mud,
anaesthetizing seasons! You I praise, and love
for so enveloping my heart and brain
in vaporous shrouds, in sepulchres of rain.

In this vast landscape where chill south winds play,
where long nights hoarsen the shrill weather-vane,
it opens wide its raven’s wings, my soul,
freer than in times of mild renewal.

Nothing’s sweeter to my heart, full of sorrows,
on which the hoar-frost fell in some past time,
O pallid seasons, queens of our clime,
than the changeless look of your pale shadows,
- except, two by two, to lay our grief to rest
in some moonless night, on a perilous bed.

The Albatross

Often, to amuse themselves, the crew of the ship
Would fell an albatross, the largest of sea birds,
Indolent companions of their trip
As they slide across the deep sea’s bitters.

Scarcely had they dropped to the plank
Than these blue kings, maladroit and ashamed
Let their great white wings sink
Like an oar dragging under the water’s plane.

The winged visitor, so awkward and weak!
So recently beautiful, now comic and ugly!
One sailor grinds a pipe into his beak,
Another, limping, mimics the infirm bird that once could fly.

The poet is like the prince of the clouds
Who haunts the storm and laughs at lightning.
He’s exiled to the ground and its hooting crowds;
His giant wings prevent him from walking.

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