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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Le Reniement de Saint Pierre

Qu'est-ce que Dieu fait donc de ce flot d'anathèmes
Qui monte tous les jours vers ses chers Séraphins?
Comme un tyran gorgé de viande et de vins,
II s'endort au doux bruit de nos affreux blasphèmes.

Les sanglots des martyrs et des suppliciés
Sont une symphonie enivrante sans doute,
Puisque, malgré le sang que leur volupté coûte,
Les cieux ne s'en sont point encore rassasiés!

— Ah! Jésus, souviens-toi du Jardin des Olives!
Dans ta simplicité tu priais à genoux
Celui qui dans son ciel riait au bruit des clous
Que d'ignobles bourreaux plantaient dans tes chairs vives,

Lorsque tu vis cracher sur ta divinité
La crapule du corps de garde et des cuisines,
Et lorsque tu sentis s'enfoncer les épines
Dans ton crâne où vivait l'immense Humanité;

Quand de ton corps brisé la pesanteur horrible
Allongeait tes deux bras distendus, que ton sang
Et ta sueur coulaient de ton front pâlissant,
Quand tu fus devant tous posé comme une cible,

Rêvais-tu de ces jours si brillants et si beaux
Où tu vins pour remplir l'éternelle promesse,
Où tu foulais, monté sur une douce ânesse,
Des chemins tout jonchés de fleurs et de rameaux,

Où, le coeur tout gonflé d'espoir et de vaillance,
Tu fouettais tous ces vils marchands à tour de bras,
Où tu fus maître enfin? Le remords n'a-t-il pas
Pénétré dans ton flanc plus avant que la lance?

— Certes, je sortirai, quant à moi, satisfait
D'un monde où l'action n'est pas la soeur du rêve;
Puissé-je user du glaive et périr par le glaive!
Saint Pierre a renié Jésus... il a bien fait!

Charles Baudelaire


The Denial of Saint Peter

What does God do with the wave of curses
That rises every day toward his dear Seraphim?
Like a tyrant gorged with food and wine, he falls asleep
To the sweet sound of our horrible blasphemies.

The sobs of martyrs and of tortured criminals
Are doubtless an enchanting symphony,
Since, despite the blood that this pleasure costs,
The heavens have not yet been surfeited with it!

— Ah Jesus, remember the Garden of Olives!
In your na´veté you prayed on your knees to
Him Who in His heaven laughed at the sound of the nails
Being driven into your living flesh;

When you saw them spitting on your divinity,
That vile mob of body-guards and scullions,
And when you felt the thorns go deep
Into your skull where lived immense Humanity,

When the horrible weight of your broken body
Lengthened your two outstretched arms, when your blood
And sweat flowed from your paling brow,
When you were placed before them all like a target,

Did you dream of those days so brilliant and so fair
When you came to fulfill the eternal promise,
When the gentle donkey you were riding trampled
The branches and flowers strewn in your path,

When, your heart swollen with courage and hope,
You lashed those vile money-changers with all your might,
In a word, when you were master? Did not remorse
Penetrate your side deeper than the spear?

— For my part, I shall indeed be content to leave
A world where action is not the sister of dreams;
Would that I could take up the sword and perish by the sword!
Saint Peter denied Jesus — he did well!

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


The Denial of Saint Peter

What does God do with that huge storm of curses
That rises daily to the seraphim?
Like some gorged tyrant, while his guts he nurses,
Our blasphemies are lullabies to him.

Martyrs and tortured victims with their cries
Compose delicious symphonies, no doubt,
Because, despite the blood they cost, the skies
Can always do with more when they give out.

Jesus, remember, in the olive trees —
In all simplicity you prayed afresh
To One whom your own butchers seemed to please
In hammering the nails into your flesh.

To see your godhead spat on by the like
Of scullions, and of troopers, and such scum,
And feel the thorns into your temples strike
Which held, of all Humanity, the sum:

To feel your body's horrifying weight
Lengthen your arms, to feel the blood and sweat
Itching your noble forehead pale with fate,
And as a target to the world be set,

Then did you dream of brilliant days of song,
When, the eternal promise to fulfill,
You mounted on an ass and rode along,
Trampling the flowers and palms beneath your feet,

When whirling whips, and full of valiant force,
The money-lenders quailed at your advance:
When you, in short, were master? Did remorse
Not pierce your body further than the lance?

I am quite satisfied to leave so bored
A world, where dream and action disunite.
I'd use the sword, to perish by the sword.
Peter denied his Master?... He did right!

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