Charles Baudelaire

9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris

La Beauté (Beauty)

Je suis belle, ô mortels! comme un rêve de pierre,
Et mon sein, où chacun s'est meurtri tour à tour,
Est fait pour inspirer au poète un amour
Eternel et muet ainsi que la matière.

Je trône dans l'azur comme un sphinx incompris;
J'unis un coeur de neige à la blancheur des cygnes;
Je hais le mouvement qui déplace les lignes,
Et jamais je ne pleure et jamais je ne ris.

Les poètes, devant mes grandes attitudes,
Que j'ai l'air d'emprunter aux plus fiers monuments,
Consumeront leurs jours en d'austères études;

Car j'ai, pour fasciner ces dociles amants,
De purs miroirs qui font toutes choses plus belles:
Mes yeux, mes larges yeux aux clartés éternelles!
Beauty

I am fair, O mortals! like a dream carved in stone,
And my breast where each one in turn has bruised himself
Is made to inspire in the poet a love
As eternal and silent as matter.

On a throne in the sky, a mysterious sphinx,
I join a heart of snow to the whiteness of swans;
I hate movement for it displaces lines,
And never do I weep and never do I laugh.

Poets, before my grandiose poses,
Which I seem to assume from the proudest statues,
Will consume their lives in austere study;

For I have, to enchant those submissive lovers,
Pure mirrors that make all things more beautiful:
My eyes, my large, wide eyes of eternal brightness!
— Translated by William Aggeler

Beauty

I'm fair, O mortals, as a dream of stone;
My breasts whereon, in turn, your wrecks you shatter,
Were made to wake in poets' hearts alone
A love as indestructible as matter.

A sky-throned sphinx, unknown yet, I combine
The cygnet's whiteness with a heart of snow.
I loathe all movement that displaces line,
And neither tears nor laughter do I know.

Poets before my postures, which I seem
To learn from masterpieces, love to dream
And there in austere thought consume their days.

I have, these docile lovers to subject,
Mirrors that glorify all they reflect —
These eyes, great eyes, eternal in their blaze!
— Translated by Roy Campbell

La Beauté

fair as a dream in stone I loom afar
— mortals! — with dazzling breast where, bruised in turn
all poets fall in silence, doomed to burn
with love eternal as the atoms are.

white as a swan I throne with heart of snow
in azure space, a sphynx that none divine,
no hateful motion mars my lovely line,
nor tears nor laughter shall I ever know.

and poets, lured by this magnificence
— this grandeur proud as Parian monuments —
toil all their days like martyrs in a spell;

lovers bewitched are they, for I possess
pure mirrors harbouring worlds of loveliness:
my wide, wide eyes where fires eternal dwell!
— Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks

Beauty

Conceive me as a dream of stone:
my breast, where mortals come to grief,
is made to prompt all poets' love,
mute and noble as matter itself.

With snow for flesh, with ice for heart,
I sit on high, an unguessed sphinx
begrudging acts that alter forms;
I never laugh, I never weep.

In studious awe the poets brood
before my monumental pose
aped from the proudest pedestal,
and to bind these docile lovers fast
I freeze the world in a perfect mirror:
The timeless light of my wide eyes.

William A. Sigler
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