May 8, 2008

Belated Hump Day Poetry: Charles Baudelaire

Posted in Poetry at 9:39 am by The Lizard Queen

(for Gye Nyame, who requested poetry in translation, and who I very much owe e-mail)

Les Hiboux

Sous les ifs noirs qui les abritent
Les hiboux se tiennent rangés
Ainsi que des dieux étrangers
Dardant leur oeil 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.

—Charles Baudelaire, 1861

(translation below the fold)

Owls

Under the dark yews which shade them,
The owls are perched in rows,
Like so many strange gods,
Darting their red eyes. They meditate.

Without budging they will remain
Till that melancholy hour
When, pushing back the slanting sun,
Darkness will take up its abode.

Their attitude teaches the wise
That in this world one must fear
Movement and commotion;

Man, enraptured by a passing shadow,
Forever bears the punishment
Of having tried to change his place.

—translated by William Aggeler, 1954

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