L'Irréparable (The Irrepaparable) by Charles Baudelaire


L'Irréparable

Pouvons-nous étouffer le vieux, le long Remords,
Qui vit, s'agite et se tortille
Et se nourrit de nous comme le ver des morts,
Comme du chêne la chenille?
Pouvons-nous étouffer l'implacable Remords?

Dans quel philtre, dans quel vin, dans quelle tisane,
Noierons-nous ce vieil ennemi,
Destructeur et gourmand comme la courtisane,
Patient comme la fourmi?
Dans quel philtre? — dans quel vin? — dans quelle tisane?

Dis-le, belle sorcière, oh! dis, si tu le sais,
À cet esprit comblé d'angoisse
Et pareil au mourant qu'écrasent les blessés,
Que le sabot du cheval froisse,
Dis-le, belle sorcière, oh! dis, si tu le sais,

À cet agonisant que le loup déjà flaire
Et que surveille le corbeau,
À ce soldat brisé! s'il faut qu'il désespère
D'avoir sa croix et son tombeau;
Ce pauvre agonisant que déjà le loup flaire!

Peut-on illuminer un ciel bourbeux et noir?
Peut-on déchirer des ténèbres
Plus denses que la poix, sans matin et sans soir,
Sans astres, sans éclairs funèbres?
Peut-on illuminer un ciel bourbeux et noir?

L'Espérance qui brille aux carreaux de l'Auberge
Est soufflée, est morte à jamais!
Sans lune et sans rayons, trouver où l'on héberge
Les martyrs d'un chemin mauvais!
Le Diable a tout éteint aux carreaux de l'Auberge!

Adorable sorcière, aimes-tu les damnés?
Dis, connais-tu l'irrémissible?
Connais-tu le Remords, aux traits empoisonnés,
À qui notre coeur sert de cible?
Adorable sorcière, aimes-tu les damnés?

L'Irréparable ronge avec sa dent maudite
Notre âme, piteux monument,
Et souvent il attaque ainsi que le termite,
Par la base le bâtiment.
L'Irréparable ronge avec sa dent maudite!

— J'ai vu parfois, au fond d'un théâtre banal
Qu'enflammait l'orchestre sonore,
Une fée allumer dans un ciel infernal
Une miraculeuse aurore;
J'ai vu parfois au fond d'un théâtre banal

Un être, qui n'était que lumière, or et gaze,
Terrasser l'énorme Satan;
Mais mon coeur, que jamais ne visite l'extase,
Est un théâtre où l'on attend
Toujours. toujours en vain, l'Etre aux ailes de gaze!

Charles Baudelaire


The Irreparable

Can we stifle the old, the lingering Remorse,
That lives, quivers and writhes,
And feeds on us like the worm on the dead,
Like the grub on the oak?
Can we stifle implacable Remorse?

In what philtre, in what potion, what wine,
Shall we drown this old enemy,
Destructive and greedy as a harlot,
Patient as the ant?
In what philtre, in what potion, what wine?

Tell it, fair sorceress, O! tell it, if you know,
To this spirit filled with anguish,
So like a dying man crushed beneath the wounded,
Who is struck by the horses' shoes;
Tell it, fair sorceress, O! tell it, if you know,

To this dying man whom the wolf already scents
And whom the crow watches,
To this broken soldier! if he must despair
Of having his cross and his grave,
This poor, dying man whom the wolf already scents!

Can one illuminate a black and miry sky?
Can one tear asunder darkness
Thicker than pitch, without morning, without evening,
Without stars, without ominous lightning?
Can one illuminate a black and miry sky?

Hope that shines in the windows of the Inn
Is snuffed out, dead forever!
Without the moon, without light, to find where they lodge
The martyrs of an evil road!
The Devil has put out all the lights at the Inn!

Adorable sorceress, do you love the damned?
Say, do you know the irremissible?
Do you know Remorse, with the poisoned darts,
For whom our hearts serve as targets?
Adorable sorceress, do you love the damned?

The Irreparable gnaws with his accurst teeth
Our soul, pitiful monument,
And often he attacks like the termite
The foundations of the building.
The Irreparable gnaws with his accurst teeth!

— Sometimes I have seen at the back of a trite stage
Enlivened by a deep-toned orchestra,
A fairy set ablaze a miraculous dawn
In an infernal sky;
Sometimes I have been at the back of a trite stage

A being who was only light, gold and gauze,
Throw down the enormous Satan;
But my heart, which rapture never visits,
Is a playhouse where one awaits
Always, always in vain, the Being with gauze wings!

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


The Irreparable

How can we choke the old and long Remorse
Which lives, and squirms, and fights
And feeds on us as worms upon a corse,
Or, on the oak, its mites?
How can we choke the old and long Remorse?

What subtle philtre, wine, or drowsy draught
Will drown that ancient foe,
Greedy as whores in his disastrous craft,
Ant-patient, sure, and slow?
What subtle philtre, wine or drowsy draught?

Lovely enchantress, if you know it, say
To this soul whelmed with woes,
Dying, whom loads of wounded crush to clay
Under the horses' shoes:
Lovely enchantress, if you know it, say

To this poor moribund, while wolves yet stalk him
And ravens croak his doom,
To this spent soldier say if fate will baulk him
Even of a cross or tomb —
Say to this moribund, while wolves yet stalk him!

Can this black muddy sky be ever lighted,
The shades be ever torn,
Denser than pitch, to day and dusk benighted,
To lightning, stars, or morn?
Can this black muddy sky be ever lighted?

The candle Hope that shows the Inn to strangers
Is blown out, snuffed, and melted.
Lacking both moon and glimmer, how shall rangers
Of evil roads be sheltered?
The devil snuffed the light that burned for strangers.

Sweet witch, do you love spirits lost to grace?
Whose sins are not remitted?
Say, do you know Remorse, with venomed face,
By whom our hearts are spitted?
Sweet witch, do you love spirits lost to grace?

The Irreparable gnaws us where it lurks
And for our soul's defacement,
As on a monument the termite, works
Up from the very basement.
The Irreparable gnaws us where it lurks.

In tawdry theatres I've sometimes seen
How, to the blare of brasses,
Miraculous, to light some hellish scene,
Like dawn, a fairy passes;
In tawdry theatres I've often seen

That by this fay of light, and gold, and gauzes,
Some monstrous fiend is slain.
But my heart knows no raptures or applauses —
A fleapit where, in vain,
One waits, and waits the creature winged with gauzes.

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



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