Monday, April 30, 2012

"Le Vampire" by Charles Baudelaire


"...a virtual movie of the legendary French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821 -- 1867) reading his poem "Le Vampire" (The Vampire) The superb reading is by Alain Cuny Charles Baudelaire was a 19th century French poet, translator, and literary and art critic whose reputation rests primarily on Les Fleurs du mal; (1857;The Flowers of Evil) which was perhaps the most important and influential poetry collection published in Europe in the 19th century. Similarly, his Petits poèmes en prose (1868; "Little Prose Poems") was the most successful and innovative early experiment in prose poetry of the time. Known for his highly contraversial, and often dark poetry, as well as his translation of the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, Baudelaire's life was filled with drama and strife, from financial disaster to being prosecuted for obscenity and blasphemy. Long after his death many look upon his name as representing depravity and vice: Others see him as being the poet of modern civilization, seeming to speak directly to the 20th century." ~YouTube link 

Le Vampire

Toi qui, comme un coup de couteau,
Dans mon coeur plaintif es entrée;
Toi qui, forte comme un troupeau
De démons, vins, folle et parée,

De mon esprit humilié
Faire ton lit et ton domaine;
— Infâme à qui je suis lié
Comme le forçat à la chaîne,

Comme au jeu le joueur têtu,
Comme à la bouteille l'ivrogne,
Comme aux vermines la charogne
— Maudite, maudite sois-tu!

J'ai prié le glaive rapide
De conquérir ma liberté,
Et j'ai dit au poison perfide
De secourir ma lâcheté.

Hélas! le poison et le glaive
M'ont pris en dédain et m'ont dit:
«Tu n'es pas digne qu'on t'enlève
À ton esclavage maudit,

Imbécile! — de son empire
Si nos efforts te délivraient,
Tes baisers ressusciteraient
Le cadavre de ton vampire!

The Vampire

You who, like the stab of a knife,
Entered my plaintive heart;
You who, strong as a herd
Of demons, came, ardent and adorned,

To make your bed and your domain
Of my humiliated mind
— Infamous bitch to whom I'm bound
Like the convict to his chain,

Like the stubborn gambler to the game, 
Like the drunkard to his wine, 
Like the maggots to the corpse,
— Accurst, accurst be you!

I begged the swift poniard 
To gain for me my liberty, 
I asked perfidious poison 
To give aid to my cowardice.

Alas! both poison and the knife
Contemptuously said to me:
"You do not deserve to be freed
From your accursed slavery,

Fool! — if from her domination
Our efforts could deliver you,
Your kisses would resuscitate
The cadaver of your vampire!"

— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

The Vampire 

You, who like a dagger ploughed 
Into my heart with deadly thrill: 
You who, stronger than a crowd 
Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill,

Of my dejected soul have made
Your bed, your lodging, and domain:
To whom I'm linked (Unseemly jade!)
As is a convict to his chain,

Or as the gamester to his dice, 
Or as the drunkard to his dram, 
Or as the carrion to its lice — 
I curse you. Would my curse could damn!

I have besought the sudden blade 
To win for me my freedom back. 
Perfidious poison I have prayed 
To help my cowardice. Alack!

Both poison and the sword disdained
My cowardice, and seemed to say
"You are not fit to be unchained
From your damned servitude. Away,

You imbecile! since if from her empire 
We were to liberate the slave, 
You'd raise the carrion of your vampire, 
By your own kisses, from the grave."

— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)



1 comment:

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