Two editions of Fleurs du mal were published in Baudelaire's lifetime — one in 1857 and an expanded edition in 1861. "Scraps" and censored poems were collected in Les Épaves in 1866. After Baudelaire died the following year, a "definitive" edition appeared in 1868.

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L'Homme et la mer

Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n'est pas un gouffre moins amer.

Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l'embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
Homme, nul n'a sondé le fond de tes abîmes;
Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!

Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables!

Charles Baudelaire


Man and the Sea

Free man, you will always cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite unrolling of its billows;
Your mind is an abyss that is no less bitter.

You like to plunge into the bosom of your image;
You embrace it with eyes and arms, and your heart
Is distracted at times from its own clamoring
By the sound of this plaint, wild and untamable.

Both of you are gloomy and reticent:
Man, no one has sounded the depths of your being;
O Sea, no person knows your most hidden riches,
So zealously do you keep your secrets!

Yet for countless ages you have fought each other
Without pity, without remorse,
So fiercely do you love carnage and death,
O eternal fighters, implacable brothers!

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


Man and the Sea

Free man, you'll always love the sea — for this,
That it's a mirror, where you see your soul
In its eternal waves that chafe and roll;
Nor is your soul less bitter an abyss.

in your reflected image there to merge,
You love to dive, its eyes and limbs to match.
Sometimes your heart forgets its own, to catch
The rhythm of that wild and tameless dirge.

The two of you are shadowy, deep, and wide.
Man! None has ever plummeted your floor —
Sea! None has ever known what wealth you store —
Both are so jealous of the things you hide!

Yet age on age is ended, or begins,
While you without remorse or pity fight.
So much in death and carnage you delight,
Eternal wrestlers! Unrelenting twins!

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


Man and the Sea

Free man, you shall forever cherish the vast sea,
The sea, that image where you contemplate your soul
As everlastingly its mighty waves unroll.
Your mind a yawning gulf seasoned as bitterly.

You love to plunge into your image to the core,
Embracing it with eyes and arms; your very heart
Sometimes finds a distraction from its urgent smart
In the wild sea's untamable and plaintive roar.

Both of you live in darkness and in mystery:
Man, who has ever plumbed the far depths of your being?
O Sea, who knows your private hidden riches, seeing
How strange the secrets you preserve so jealously?

And yet for countless ages you have fought each other
With hands unsparing and with unforbearing breath,
Each an eternal foe to his relentless brother,
So avid are you both of slaughter and of death.

— Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil (Mt Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1958)


L'Homme et la mer

love Ocean always, Man: ye both are free!
the Sea, thy mirror: thou canst find thy soul
in the unfurling billows' surging roll,
they mind's abyss is bitter as the sea.

thou doest rejoice thy mirrored face to pierce,
plunging, and clasp with eyes and arms; thy heart
at its own mutter oft forgets to start,
lulled by that plaint indomitably fierce.

discreet ye both are; both are taciturn:
Man, none has measured all thy dark abyss,
none, Sea, knows where thy hoarded treasure is,
so jealously your secrets ye inurn!

and yet for countless ages, trucelessly,
— o ruthless warriors! — ye have fought and striven:
brothers by lust for death and carnage driven,
twin wrestlers, gripped for all eternity!

— Lewis Piaget Shanks, Flowers of Evil (New York: Ives Washburn, 1931)