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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Lesbos

Mère des jeux latins et des voluptés grecques,
Lesbos, où les baisers, languissants ou joyeux,
Chauds comme les soleils, frais comme les pastèques,
Font l'ornement des nuits et des jours glorieux,
Mère des jeux latins et des voluptés grecques,

Lesbos, où les baisers sont comme les cascades
Qui se jettent sans peur dans les gouffres sans fonds,
Et courent, sanglotant et gloussant par saccades,
Orageux et secrets, fourmillants et profonds;
Lesbos, où les baisers sont comme les cascades!

Lesbos, où les Phrynés l'une l'autre s'attirent,
Où jamais un soupir ne resta sans écho,
À l'égal de Paphos les étoiles t'admirent,
Et Vénus à bon droit peut jalouser Sapho!
Lesbos où les Phrynés l'une l'autre s'attirent,

Lesbos, terre des nuits chaudes et langoureuses,
Qui font qu'à leurs miroirs, stérile volupté!
Les filles aux yeux creux, de leur corps amoureuses,
Caressent les fruits mûrs de leur nubilité;
Lesbos, terre des nuits chaudes et langoureuses,

Laisse du vieux Platon se froncer l'oeil austère;
Tu tires ton pardon de l'excès des baisers,
Reine du doux empire, aimable et noble terre,
Et des raffinements toujours inépuisés.
Laisse du vieux Platon se froncer l'oeil austère.

Tu tires ton pardon de l'éternel martyre,
Infligé sans relâche aux coeurs ambitieux,
Qu'attire loin de nous le radieux sourire
Entrevu vaguement au bord des autres cieux!
Tu tires ton pardon de l'éternel martyre!

Qui des Dieux osera, Lesbos, être ton juge
Et condamner ton front pâli dans les travaux,
Si ses balances d'or n'ont pesé le déluge
De larmes qu'à la mer ont versé tes ruisseaux?
Qui des Dieux osera, Lesbos, être ton juge?

Que nous veulent les lois du juste et de l'injuste ?
Vierges au coeur sublime, honneur de l'archipel,
Votre religion comme une autre est auguste,
Et l'amour se rira de l'Enfer et du Ciel!
Que nous veulent les lois du juste et de l'injuste?

Car Lesbos entre tous m'a choisi sur la terre
Pour chanter le secret de ses vierges en fleurs,
Et je fus dès l'enfance admis au noir mystère
Des rires effrénés mêlés aux sombres pleurs;
Car Lesbos entre tous m'a choisi sur la terre.

Et depuis lors je veille au sommet de Leucate,
Comme une sentinelle à l'oeil perçant et sûr,
Qui guette nuit et jour brick, tartane ou frégate,
Dont les formes au loin frissonnent dans l'azur;
Et depuis lors je veille au sommet de Leucate,

Pour savoir si la mer est indulgente et bonne,
Et parmi les sanglots dont le roc retentit
Un soir ramènera vers Lesbos, qui pardonne,
Le cadavre adoré de Sapho, qui partit
Pour savoir si la mer est indulgente et bonne!

De la mâle Sapho, l'amante et le poète,
Plus belle que Vénus par ses mornes pâleurs!
— L'oeil d'azur est vaincu par l'oeil noir que tachète
Le cercle ténébreux tracé par les douleurs
De la mâle Sapho, l'amante et le poète!

— Plus belle que Vénus se dressant sur le monde
Et versant les trésors de sa sérénité
Et le rayonnement de sa jeunesse blonde
Sur le vieil Océan de sa fille enchanté;
Plus belle que Vénus se dressant sur le monde!

— De Sapho qui mourut le jour de son blasphème,
Quand, insultant le rite et le culte inventé,
Elle fit son beau corps la pâture suprême
D'un brutal dont l'orgueil punit l'impiété
De celle qui mourut le jour de son blasphème.

Et c'est depuis ce temps que Lesbos se lamente,
Et, malgré les honneurs que lui rend l'univers,
S'enivre chaque nuit du cri de la tourmente
Que poussent vers les cieux ses rivages déserts.
Et c'est depuis ce temps que Lesbos se lamente!

Charles Baudelaire


Lesbos

Mother of Latin games and Greek delights,
Lesbos, where kisses, languishing or joyous,
Burning as the sun's light, cool as melons,
Adorn the nights and the glorious days;
Mother of Latin games and Greek delights,

Lesbos, where the kisses are like cascades
That throw themselves boldly into bottomless chasms
And flow, sobbing and gurgling intermittently,
Stormy and secret, teeming and profound;
Lesbos, where the kisses are like cascades!

Lesbos, where courtesans feel drawn toward each other,
Where for every sigh there is an answering sigh,
The stars admire you as much as Paphos,
And Venus may rightly be jealous of Sappho!
Lesbos, where courtesans feel drawn toward each other,

Lesbos, land of hot and languorous nights,
That make the hollow-eyed girls, amorous
Of their own bodies, caress before their mirrors
The ripe fruits of their nubility, O sterile pleasure!
Lesbos, land of hot and languorous nights,

Let old Plato look on you with an austere eye;
You earn pardon by the excess of your kisses
And the inexhaustible refinements of your love,
Queen of the sweet empire, pleasant and noble land.
Let old Plato look on you with an austere eye.

You earn pardon by the eternal martyrdom
Inflicted ceaselessly upon aspiring hearts
Who are lured far from us by radiant smiles
Vaguely glimpsed at the edge of other skies!
You earn pardon by that eternal martyrdom!

Which of the gods will dare to be your judge, Lesbos,
And condemn your brow, grown pallid from your labors,
If his golden scales have not weighed the flood
Of tears your streams have poured into the sea?
Which of the gods will dare to be your judge, Lesbos?

What are to us the laws of the just and unjust
Virgins with sublime hearts, honor of these islands;
Your religion, like any other, is august,
And love will laugh at Heaven and at Hell!
What are to us the laws of the just and unjust?

For Lesbos chose me among all other poets
To sing the secret of her virgins in their bloom,
And from childhood I witnessed the dark mystery
Of unbridled laughter mingled with tears of gloom;
For Lesbos chose me among all other poets.

And since then I watch from Leucadia's summit,
Like a sentry with sure and piercing eyes
Who looks night and day for tartane, brig or frigate,
Whose forms in the distance flutter against the blue;
And since then I watch from Leucadia's summit,

To find out if the sea is indulgent and kind,
If to the sobs with which the rocks resound
It will bring back some night to Lesbos, who forgives,
The worshipped body of Sappho, who departed
To find out if the sea is indulgent and kind!

Of the virile Sappho, paramour and poet,
With her wan pallor, more beautiful than Venus!
— The blue eyes were conquered by the black eyes, ringed
With dark circles, traced by the sufferings
Of the virile Sappho, paramour and poet!

— Lovelier than Venus dominating the world,
Pouring out the treasures of her serenity
And the radiance of her golden-haired youth
Upon old Ocean, delighted with his daughter;
Lovelier than Venus dominating the world!

— Of Sappho who died the day of her blasphemy,
When, insulting the rite and the established cult,
She made of her body the supreme pabulum
Of a cruel brute whose pride punished the sacrilege
Of her who died on the day of her blasphemy.

And it is since that time that Lesbos mourns,
And in spite of the homage the world renders her,
Gets drunk every night with the tempest's howls
Which are hurled at the skies by her deserted shores.
And it is since that time that Lesbos mourns.

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


Lesbos

Mother of Grecian joys and Latin games,
Lesbos, where kisses, languishing or gay,
As melons cool, or warm as solar flames,
Adorn alike the glorious night and day:
Mother of Grecian joys and Latin games,

Lesbos of kisses reckless as cascades
That hurl themselves to bottomless abysses,
Stormy and secret, myriad-swarming kisses,
That cluck and sob and gurgle in the shades.
Lesbos of kisses reckless as cascades!

Lesbos where Phrynes each to each are plighted,
Where never yet unanswered went a sigh,
Where Paphos with a rival is requited,
And Venus with a Sappho has to vie!
Lesbos where Phrynes each to each are plighted,

Lesbos, the land of warm and languid night,
Where gazing in their mirrors as they dress
The cave-eyed girls, in barren, vain delight,
The fruits of their nubility caress.
Lesbos, the land of warm and languid night,

Let Plato frown austerely all the while.
Your pardon's from excess of kisses won,
Queen of sweet empire, rare and noble isle —
And from refinements which are never done.
Let Plato frown austerely all the while.

From martyrdom your pardon you beguile,
Inflicted without stint on hearts that soar
Far, far away, drawn by some radiant smile
Seen vaguely on a strange celestial shore.
From martyrdom your pardon you beguile.

Lesbos, what God to judge you would make bold,
Or damn your brows so pale and sadly grave,
Not having weighed upon the scales of gold
The floods of tears you've poured into the wave.
Lesbos which God to judge you would make bold?

For us, what mean the statutes of the just?
Pride of the isles, whose hearts sublimely swell,
Your faith as any other is august
And Love can laugh alike at Heaven and Hell.
For us, what mean the statues of the just?

For Lesbos chose me of all men on earth
To sing the secrets of her virgin flowers,
Taught as a child the sacred rites of mirth
And mysteries of sorrow which are ours.
So Lesbos chose me of all men on earth.

Since then I watch on the Leucadian height.
Like a lone sentry with a piercing view
Who sees the vessels ere they heave in sight
With forms that faintly tremble in the blue.
Since then I watch on the Leucadian height

To find out if the sea's heart still is hardened
And from the sobs that drench the rock with spray
If it will bring back Sappho, who has pardoned,
The corpse of the adored, who went away
To find out that the sea its heart has hardened;

Of the male Sappho, lover, queen of singers,
More beautiful than Venus by her woes.
The blue eye cannot match the black, where lingers
The shady circle that her grief bestows
On the male Sappho, lover, queen of singers —

Fairer than Venus towering on the world
And pouring down serenity like water
In the blond radiance of her tresses curled
To daze the very Ocean with her daughter,
Fairer than Venus towering on the world —

Of Sappho, whom her blasphemy requited
The day she quit the rite and scorned the cult,
And gave her lovely body to be slighted
By a rough brute, whose scorn was the result
For Sappho, whom the blasphemy requited.

And since that time has Lesbos lived lamenting
In spite of all the honours of mankind,
And lives upon the storm-howl unrelenting
Of its bleak shores, the sport of wave and wind:
For since that time has Lesbos lived lamenting.

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


Lesbos

Mother of Latin revelry and of Greek delight,
Lesbos, whereof the kisses, disconsolate or gay,
Hot as the sun, or cool as melons plucked by night,
Beguile the unshadowed and the shadowed hours away;
Mother of Latin revelry and of Greek delight,

Lesbos, whereof the kisses are whirlpools and cascades
Journeying carelessly into a dark abyss:
So wild the sobbing and laughter among thy colonnades,
So secret, so profound, so stormy, every kiss!
Lesbos, whereof the kisses are whirlpools and cascades!

Lesbos, where the sweet slaves one to another yearn,
Where there is never a glance without an echoing sign;
Even as upon Cyprus the stars upon thee burn
With praise, and Cyprus' queen is envious of thine,
Lesbos, where the sweet slaves one to mother yearn —

Lesbos, of sultry twilights and pure, infertile joy,
Where deep-eyed maidens, thoughtlessly disrobing, see
Their beauty, and are entranced before their mirrors, and toy
Fondly with the soft fruits of their nubility;
Lesbos, of sultry twilights and pure, infertile joy!

Let frown the old lined forehead of Plato as it will:
Thy pardon is assured — even by the strange excess,
Luxurious isle, of thy long sterile rapture, still
Contriving some new freak or form of tenderness;
Let frown the old lined forehead of Plato as it will.

Thy pardon has been bought with our eternal pain,
The lonely martyrdom endured in every age
By those who sigh for pleasures outlandish and insane
To ease the unearthly longing no pleasure can assuage.
Thy pardon has been bought with our eternal pain.

Who, Lesbos, of the gods would dare pronounce thy fate
And brand thy passionate white brow with infamy —
Or hope by any art or science to estimate
The tears, the tears thy streams have poured into the sea?
Who, Lesbos, of the gods would dare pronounce thy fate?

What are men's laws to us, injurious or benign?
Proud virgins, glory of the Aegean! We know well
Love, be it most foredoomed, most desperate, is divine,
And love will always laugh at heaven and at hell!
What are men's laws to us, injurious or benign?

Lo! I was named by Lesbos of all the lists of earth
To celebrate her sad-eyed girls and their sweet lore:
And I have known from childhood the noise of loud, crazed mirth
Confused mysteriously with terrible weeping — for
Lo! I was named by Lesbos of all the lists of earth.

And I have watched thenceforward from the Leucadian cliff,
Like an unwearying old sentry, who can descry
Far out on the horizon a sailboat or a skiff
Invisible to others, with his sharp, practised eye;
And I have watched thenceforward from the Leucadian cliff

To find if the cold wave were pitiful and good —
And someday I shall see come wandering home, I know,
To all-forgiving Lesbos upon the twilight flood
The sacred ruins of Sappho, who set forth long ago
To find if the cold wave were pitiful and good;

Of Sappho, poet and lover — the virile, calm, and brave,
More beautiful than Venus, by force of earthly grief —
More beautiful than blue-eyed Venus, with her grave
And dusky glance disclosing the sorrows past belief
Of Sappho, poet and lover — the virile, calm, and brave:

More beautiful than Venus arising to the world
And scattering all round her the iridescent fire
Of her blond loveliness with rainbow hues impearled
Upon the old green ocean, her bedazzled sire;
More beautiful than Venus arising to the world!

— Of Sappho, who died proudly the day of her soul's crime
When, faithless to her teaching and to her serious pledge,
She flung the occult dark roses of her love sublime
To a vain churl. Alas! How deep the sacrilege
Of Sappho, who died proudly the day of her soul's crime!

And from that day to this the isle of Lesbos mourns —
And heedful of the world's late homage in no wise,
Gives answer but with the hollow moaning of her wild bourns:
The sea's long obloquy to the unlistening skies!
And from that day to this the isle of Lesbos mourns.

— George Dillon, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)


Lesbos

Mother of Latin sports and Greek delights,
Where kisses languishing or pleasureful,
Warm as the suns, as the water-melons cool,
Adorn the glorious days and sleepless nights,
Mother of Latin sports and Greek delights,

Lesbos, where kisses are as waterfalls
That fearless into gulfs unfathom'd leap,
Now run with sobs, now slip with gentle brawls,
Stormy and secret, manifold and deep;
Lesbos, where kisses are as waterfalls!

Lesbos, where Phryne Phryne to her draws,
Where ne'er a sigh did echoless expire,
As Paphos' equal thee the stars admire,
Nor venus envies Sappho without cause!
Lesbos, where Phryne Phryne to her draws,

Lesbos, the land of warm and languorous nights,
Where by their mirrors seeking sterile good,
The girls with hollow eyes, in soft delights,
Caress the ripe fruits of their womanhood,
Lesbos, the land of warm and languorous nights.

Leave, leave old Plato's austere eye to frown;
Pardon is thine for kisses' sweet excess,
Queen of the land of amiable renown,
And for exhaustless subtleties of bliss,
Leave, leave old Plato's austere eye to frown.

Pardon is thine for the eternal pain
That on the ambitious hearts for ever lies,
Whom far from us the radiant smile could gain,
Seen dimly on the verge of other skies;
Pardon is thine for the eternal pain!

Which of the gods will dare thy judge to be,
And to condemn thy brown with labour pale,
Not having balanced in his golden scale
The flood of tears thy brooks pour'd in the sea?
Which of the gods will dare thy judge to be?

What boot the laws of just and of unjust?
Great-hearted virgins, honour of the isles,
Lo, your religion is also august,
And love at hell and heaven together smiles!
What boot the laws of just and of unjust?

For Lesbos chose me out from all my peers,
To sing the secret of her maids in flower,
Opening the mystery dark from childhood's hour,
Of frantic laughters, mix'd with sombre tears;
For Lesbos chose me out from all my peers.

And since I from Leucate's top survey,
Like a sentinel with piercing eye and true,
Watching for brig and frigate night and day,
Whose distant outlines quiver in the bue,
And since I from Leucate's top survey,

To learn if kind and merciful the sea,
And midst the sobs that make the rock resound,
Brings back some eve to pardoning Lesbos, free
The worshipp'd corpse of Sappho, who made her bound
To learn if kind and merciful the sea!

Of her the man-like lover-poetess,
In her sad pallor more than Venus fair!
The azure eye yields to that black eye, where
The cloudy circle tells of the distress
Of her the man-like lover-poetess!

Fairer than Venus risen on the world,
Pouring the treasures of her aspect mild,
The radiance of her fair white youth unfurl'd
On Ocean old enchanted with his child;
Fairer than Venus risen on the world.

Of Sappho, who, blaspheming, died that day
When trampling on the rite and sacred creed,
She made her body fair the supreme prey
Of one whose pride punish'd the impious deed
Of Sappho, who, blaspheming, died that day.

And since that time it is that Lesbos moans,
And, spite the homage which the whole world pays,
Is drunk each night with cries of pain and groans,
Her desert shores unto the heavens do raise,
And since that time it is that Lesbos moans!

— Richard Herne Shepherd, Translations from Charles Baudelaire (London: John Camden Hotten, 1869)