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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Les Plaintes d'un Icare

Les amants des prostituées
Sont heureux, dispos et repus;
Quant à moi, mes bras sont rompus
Pour avoir étreint des nuées.

C'est grâce aux astres nonpareils,
Qui tout au fond du ciel flamboient,
Que mes yeux consumés ne voient
Que des souvenirs de soleils.

En vain j'ai voulu de l'espace
Trouver la fin et le milieu;
Sous je ne sais quel oeil de feu
Je sens mon aile qui se casse;

Et brûlé par l'amour du beau,
Je n'aurai pas l'honneur sublime
De donner mon nom à l'abîme
Qui me servira de tombeau.

Charles Baudelaire


The Complaints of an Icarus

The lovers of prostitutes
Are happy, healthy, and sated;
As for me, my arms are weary
Because I have embraced the clouds,

It is thanks to the peerless stars
That flame in the depth of the sky
That my burned out eyes see
Only the memories of suns.

I tried in vain to find
The middle and the end of space;
I know not under what fiery eye
I feel my pinions breaking;

Burned by love of the beautiful
I shan't have the sublime honor
Of giving my name to the abyss
That will serve me as a tomb.

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


Complaint of an Icarus

Those who love whores are well-endowed,
Spry, and well-fed, and cheerful-spoken.
But, as for me, my arms are broken
From trying to embrace a cloud.

To what two peerless stars have done
That kindle in the farthest skies,
I owe it that my burnt-out eyes
Know only memories of the sun.

In vain I've tried to find the pole
And the equator-line of space.
I know not by what burning gaze
The wings were molten from my soul.

By love of beauty singed, I fall
Yet fail the honour and the bliss
To give my name to the abyss
Which serves me for my tomb and pall.

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


Plaint of Icarus

Lovers of prostitutes, in crowds,
Are sated and content and cheery,
But as for me, my arms are weary
Because I have embraced the clouds.
Thanks to the stars — O peerless ones! —
That flame deep in the boundless sky,
My burned-out eyes can now descry
Only the memories of suns.

In vain I sought to trace and fit
Space in its mid and final stance
I know not under what hot glance
My wings are crumbling bit by bit.
The love of beauty sealed my doom,
Charred, I have not been granted this:
To give my name to the abyss
That is to serve me as a tomb.

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


The Lamentations of an Icarus

The lovers of prostitutes are
Happy, cheerful, well-fed;
As for me, my arms are broken
Through having hugged the clouds.

It is thanks to the incomparable stars,
Blazing in the depths of the sky,
That my devoured eyes see only
The memories of suns.

In vain I wished to find
The center and the end of space;
I know not under what fiery eye
I feel my wings breaking;

And burnt up by love of beauty,
I shall not have the splendid honor
Of giving my name to the abyss
Which will serve as my grave.

— Geoffrey Wagner, Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire (NY: Grove Press, 1974)