Read the poem: “La Beatrice”

by Charles Baudelaire

Extract of The Flowers of Evil

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American LiteratureAmerican PoetryCharles Baudelaire
< < < Ill Luck
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La Beatrice

In a burnt, ashen land, where no herb grew,
I to the winds my cries of anguish threw;
And in my thoughts, in that sad place apart,
Pricked gently with the poignard o’er my heart.
Then in full noon above my head a cloud
Descended tempest-swollen, and a crowd
Of wild, lascivious spirits huddled there,
The cruel and curious demons of the air,
Who coldly to consider me began;
Then, as a crowd jeers some unhappy man,
Exchanging gestures, winking with their eyes—
I heard a laughing and a whispering rise:

“Let us at leisure contemplate this clown,
This shadow of Hamlet aping Hamlet’s frown,
With wandering eyes and hair upon the wind.
Is’t not a pity that this empty mind,
This tramp, this actor out of work, this droll,
Because he knows how to assume a rôle
Should dream that eagles and insects, streams and woods,
Stand still to hear him chaunt his dolorous moods?
Even unto us, who made these ancient things,
The fool his public lamentation sings.”
With pride as lofty as the towering cloud,
I would have stilled these clamouring demons loud,
And turned in scorn my sovereign head away
Had I not seen—O sight to dim the day!—
There in the middle of the troupe obscene
The proud and peerless beauty of my Queen!
She laughed with them at all my dark distress,
And gave to each in turn a vile caress.

Translated by F. P. Sturm

< < < Ill Luck
Lesbos > > >

American LiteratureAmerican PoetryCharles Baudelaire

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