Charles Baudelaire

9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris

Que Diras-Tu Ce Soir, Pauvre Âme Solitaire (What Will You Say Tonight, Poor Solitary Soul)

Que diras-tu ce soir, pauvre âme solitaire,
Que diras-tu, mon coeur, coeur autrefois flétri,
À la très belle, à la très bonne, à la très chère,
Dont le regard divin t'a soudain refleuri?

— Nous mettrons notre orgueil à chanter ses louanges:
Rien ne vaut la douceur de son autorité
Sa chair spirituelle a le parfum des Anges
Et son oeil nous revêt d'un habit de clarté.

Que ce soit dans la nuit et dans la solitude
Que ce soit dans la rue et dans la multitude
Son fantôme dans l'air danse comme un flambeau.

Parfois il parle et dit: «Je suis belle, et j'ordonne
Que pour l'amour de moi vous n'aimiez que le Beau;
Je suis l'Ange gardien, la Muse et la Madone.»

What Will You Say Tonight, Poor Solitary Soul

What will you say tonight, poor solitary soul,
What will you say, my heart, heart once so withered,
To the kindest, dearest, the fairest of women,
Whose divine glance suddenly revived you?

— We shall try our pride in singing her praises:
There is nothing sweeter than to do her bidding;
Her spiritual flesh has the fragrance of Angels,
And when she looks upon us we are clothed with light.

Be it in the darkness of night, in solitude,
Or in the city street among the multitude,
Her image in the air dances like a torch flame.

Sometimes it speaks and says: 'I am fair, I command
That for your love of me you love only Beauty;
I am your guardian Angel, your Muse and Madonna.'
— Translated by William Aggeler

What Can You Say, Poor Lonely Soul of Mine

What can you say, poor lonely soul of mine,
Or you, poor heart, so long ago turned sour,
To the best, dearest, loveliest, whose divine
Regard has made you open like a flower?

We'll set our pride to sing her highest praise
Naught to her sweet authority compares:
Her psychic flesh is formed of fragrant airs.
Her glances clothe us in a suit of rays.

Be it in solitude at dead of night,
Or in the crowded streets of glaring light,
Her phantom like a torch before me streams.

It speaks: 'I'm beautiful. These orders take.
Love naught but Beauty, always, for my sake,
Madonna, guardian Angel, Muse of dreams.'
— Translated by Roy Campbell

What Shall You Say Tonight?

What shall you say tonight, poor soul so full of care,
What shall you say, my heart, heart hitherto so sad,
To the most kind, to the most dear, to the most fair,
Whose pure serene regard has made you proud and glad?

— We shall set all our pride to sing her holy praise!
What sweetness to be hers! To live beneath her sight!
Half spirit is her flesh, angelic all her ways;
Her glance alone invests us in a robe of light!

Whether in solitude and deep obscurity,
Whether by day among the moving crowd it be,
Her phantom like a torch in air will dance and run;

It speaks: 'Beauty is mine; Authority is mine;
Love only, for my sake, the noble and the fine:
I am thine Angel, Muse, Madonna, all in one.'
— Translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay
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