Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil


Brumes et pluies

Ô fins d'automne, hivers, printemps trempés de boue,
Endormeuses saisons! je vous aime et vous loue
D'envelopper ainsi mon coeur et mon cerveau
D'un linceul vaporeux et d'un vague tombeau.

Dans cette grande plaine où l'autan froid se joue,
Où par les longues nuits la girouette s'enroue,
Mon âme mieux qu'au temps du tiède renouveau
Ouvrira largement ses ailes de corbeau.

Rien n'est plus doux au coeur plein de choses funèbres,
Et sur qui dès longtemps descendent les frimas,
Ô blafardes saisons, reines de nos climats,

Que l'aspect permanent de vos pâles ténèbres,
— Si ce n'est, par un soir sans lune, deux à deux,
D'endormir la douleur sur un lit hasardeux.

Charles Baudelaire


Mist and Rain

O ends of autumn, winters, springtimes drenched with mud,
Seasons that lull to sleep! I love you, I praise you
For enfolding my heart and mind thus
In a misty shroud and a filmy tomb.

On that vast plain where the cold south wind plays,
Where in the long, dark nights the weather-cock grows hoarse,
My soul spreads wide its raven wings
More easily than in the warm springtide.

Nothing is sweeter to a gloomy heart
On which the hoar-frost has long been falling,
Than the permanent aspect of your pale shadows,

O wan seasons, queens of our clime
— Unless it be to deaden suffering, side by side
In a casual bed, on a moonless night.

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


Mist and Rain

O Autumns, Winters, Springs! Seasons of mire!
Soul-drowsing times! I love you. Take my praise
For shrouding thus my heart and brain entire
In a vague tomb and winding-sheet of haze.

Through the long nights when the south-wester swings
The rusty vanes that shriek upon the towers,
My soul can fully stretch its raven wings
More easily than in the warmer hours.

Nothing is sweeter to funereal hearts
On whom the frost of ages has been laid —
Wan seasons, when you queen it round these parts, —

Than the eternal sight of your pale shade:
Unless on moonless midnights, pair by pair,
To lull, upon chance beds, our hearts' despair.

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


Mists and Rains

O ends of autumn, winters, springtimes deep in mud,
Seasons of drowsiness, — my love and gratitude
I give you, that have wrapped with mist my heart and brain
As with a shroud, and shut them in a tomb of rain.

In this wide land when coldly blows the bleak south-west
And weathervanes at night grow hoarse on the house-crest,
Better than in the time when green things bud and grow
My mounting soul spreads wide its black wings of a crow.

The heart filled up with gloom, and to the falling sleet
Long since accustomed, finds no other thing more sweet —
O dismal seasons, queens of our sad climate crowned —

Than to remain always in your pale shadows drowned;
(Unless it be, some dark night, kissing an unseen head,
To rock one's pain to sleep upon a hazardous bed.)

— Edna St. Vincent Millay, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)


Mists and Rains

Springs of mud
And winter
Have my gratitude
For wrapping my
Heart's mind
In their graves.

It's foul weather
That rips open
My ruptured soul
To the winds

Nothing is sweeter
Than a mournful, ruptured soul
Rasping to try to endure

The shadows that contrive
To extinguish it
Without offering
One bedded promise of oblivion.

— Will Schmitz


Mists and Rains

O last of Autumn and Winter — steeped in haze,
O sleepy seasons! you I love and praise,
Because around my heart and brain you twine
A misty winding-sheet and a nebulous shrine.

On that great plain, where frigid blasts abound,
Where through the nights, so long, the vane whirls round,
My soul, more free than in the springtime soft,
Will stretch her raven wings and soar aloft,

Unto an heart with gloomy things replete,
On which remain the frosts of former Times,
O pallid seasons, mistress of our climes

As your pale shadows — nothing is so sweet,
Unless it be, on a moonless night a-twain,
On some chance couch to soothe to sleep our Pain.

— Cyril Scott, Baudelaire: The Flowers of Evil (London: Elkin Mathews, 1909)


Brumes et pluies

o muddy Aprils, autumns, winters too!
o drowsy seasons! love and praise to you
I bring, for over heart and brain ye throw
your misty shrouds and tombs to hide me so.

vast plain, where Boreas mocks her brawling crew,
hoarse weather-vanes which creak the whole night through,
ye rouse me more than May, for now I go
soaring on wider condor wings of woe.

wan months of mist which in the north prevail,
no boon so dear to souls whereon the snows
forever fall, and shades of death enclose,

as your unending twilight cold and pale,
— unless, some moonless eve should find us, twain,
creeping in beds of chance to lull our pain.

— Lewis Piaget Shanks, Flowers of Evil (New York: Ives Washburn, 1931)


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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.