REMORDS POSTHUMEREMORSE AFTER DEATH
Charles Baudelairetrans. Elsie Callander
Lorsque tu dormiras, ma belle ténébreuse,
Au fond d'un monument construit en marbre noir,
Et lorsque tu n'auras pour alcôve et manoir
Qu'un caveau pluvieux et qu'une fosse creuse;

Quand la pierre, opprimant ta poitrine peureuse
Et tes flancs qu'assouplit un charmant nonchaloir,
Empêchera ton coeur de battre et de vouloir,
Et tes pieds de courir leur course aventureuse,

Le tombeau, confident de mon rêve infini
(Car le tombeau toujours comprendra le poète),
Durant ces grandes nuits d'où le somme est banni,

Te dira: "Que vous sert, courtisane imparfaite,
De n'avoir pas connu ce que pleurent les morts?"
- Et le ver rongera ta peau comme un remords.
One day you'll lie asleep, my dark-haired beauty,
Inside a monument of marble carved in black,
And when instead of alcove in a stately mansion
What you will have is leaky vault and hollow pit;

When the cold stone, your timorous breast oppressing
And your loins, now softened by sweet nonchalance,
Prevents your heart from beating and desiring
And your feet from running in their reckless dance,

The grave, confidant of my dreams unending,
(For the grave will always understand the poet),
Throughout those endless nights when sleep is barred,

Will taunt you: "What good has it done you, my stunted courtesan,
Not to have known what all the dead bewail?"
- And your remorse will be the worms that gnaw your flesh.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. copyright © Elsie Callander 2003


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