Toi qui, comme un coup de couteau,
Dans mon coeur plaintif es entrée;
Toi qui, forte comme un troupeau
De démons, vins, folle et parée,
De mon esprit humilié
Faire ton lit et ton domaine;
— Infâme à qui je suis lié
Comme le forçat à la chaîne,
Comme au jeu le joueur têtu,
Comme à la bouteille l'ivrogne,
Comme aux vermines la charogne
— Maudite, maudite sois-tu!
J'ai prié le glaive rapide
De conquérir ma liberté,
Et j'ai dit au poison perfide
De secourir ma lâcheté.
Hélas! le poison et le glaive
M'ont pris en dédain et m'ont dit:
«Tu n'es pas digne qu'on t'enlève
À ton esclavage maudit,
Imbécile! — de son empire
Si nos efforts te délivraient,
Tes baisers ressusciteraient
Le cadavre de ton vampire!»
— Charles Baudelaire
You who, like the stab of a knife,
Entered my plaintive heart;
You who, strong as a herd
Of demons, came, ardent and adorned,
To make your bed and your domain
Of my humiliated mind
— Infamous bitch to whom I'm bound
Like the convict to his chain,
Like the stubborn gambler to the game,
Like the drunkard to his wine,
Like the maggots to the corpse,
— Accurst, accurst be you!
I begged the swift poniard
To gain for me my liberty,
I asked perfidious poison
To give aid to my cowardice.
Alas! both poison and the knife
Contemptuously said to me:
"You do not deserve to be freed
From your accursed slavery,
Fool! — if from her domination
Our efforts could deliver you,
Your kisses would resuscitate
The cadaver of your vampire!"
— William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)
You, who like a dagger ploughed
Into my heart with deadly thrill:
You who, stronger than a crowd
Of demons, mad, and dressed to kill,
Of my dejected soul have made
Your bed, your lodging, and domain:
To whom I'm linked (Unseemly jade!)
As is a convict to his chain,
Or as the gamester to his dice,
Or as the drunkard to his dram,
Or as the carrion to its lice —
I curse you. Would my curse could damn!
I have besought the sudden blade
To win for me my freedom back.
Perfidious poison I have prayed
To help my cowardice. Alack!
Both poison and the sword disdained
My cowardice, and seemed to say
"You are not fit to be unchained
From your damned servitude. Away,
You imbecile! since if from her empire
We were to liberate the slave,
You'd raise the carrion of your vampire,
By your own kisses, from the grave."
— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)
Thou who abruptly as a knife
Didst come into my heart; thou who,
A demon horde into my life,
Didst enter, wildly dancing, through
The doorways of my sense unlatched
To make my spirit thy domain —
Harlot to whom I am attached
As convicts to the ball and chain,
As gamblers to the wheel's bright spell,
As drunkards to their raging thirst,
As corpses to their worms — accurst
Be thou! Oh, be thou damned to hell!
I have entreated the swift sword
To strike, that I at once be freed;
The poisoned phial I have implored
To plot with me a ruthless deed.
Alas! the phial and the blade
Do cry aloud and laugh at me:
"Thou art not worthy of our aid;
Thou art not worthy to be free.
"Though one of us should be the tool
To save thee from thy wretched fate,
Thy kisses would resuscitate
The body of thy vampire, fool!"
— George Dillon, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)
Lust, like a fang in my throat,
and you, gorgeous and wild,
a demon embracing my soul,
claiming me as yours and yours alone!
And me, caught, humiliated, shackled,
a stupid gambler, losing, ever losing,
a drunkard, staggering from your venom,
my needs like maggots on a rotten carcass!
A way, any way, through stabbing or poisoning,
to find release from my cowardice,
but, no, these remedies, they spoke to me in flat disgust:
"Get away from her? No chance.
No sooner than you'd see her dead,
you'd press your mouth against her lips
and resurrect your vampire's corpse!"
— Edward Eriksson
Thou, sharper than a dagger thrust
Sinking into my plaintive heart,
Thou, frenzied and arrayed in lust,
Strong as a demon host whose art
Possessed my humbled soul at last,
Made it thy bed and thy domain,
Strumpet, to whom I am bound fast
As is the convict to his chain,
The stubborn gambler to his dice,
The rabid drunkard to his bowl,
The carcass to its vermin lice —
O thrice-accursèd be thy soul!
I called on the swift sword to smite
One blow to free my life of this,
I begged perfidious aconite
For succor in my cowardice.
But sword and poison in my need
Heaped scorn upon my craven mood,
Saying: "Unworthy to be freed,
From thine accursed servitude,
O fool, if through our efforts, Fate
Absolved thee from thy sorry plight,
Thy kisses would resuscitate
Thy vampire's corpse for thy delight."
— Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil (Mt Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1958)
You who, keen as a carving blade,
Into my plaintive heart has plunged,
You who, strong as a wild array
Of crazed and costumed cacodaemons,
Storming into my helpless soul
To make your bed and your domain;
Tainted jade to whom I'm joined
Like a convict to his chain,
Like a gambler to his game,
Like a drunkard to his bottle,
Like maggot-worms to their cadaver,
Damn you, oh damn you I say!
I pleaded with the speedy sword
To win me back my liberty;
And finally, a desperate coward,
I turned to poison's perfidy.
Alas, but poison and the sword
Had only scorn to offer me:
"You're not worthy to be free
Of your wretched slavery,
You imbecile! For if our means
Should release you from her reign,
You with your kisses would only breathe
New life into the vampire slain!"
— Atti Viragh
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.