Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Je n'ai pas oublié, voisine de la ville

Je n'ai pas oublié, voisine de la ville,
Notre blanche maison, petite mais tranquille;
Sa Pomone de plâtre et sa vieille Vénus
Dans un bosquet chétif cachant leurs membres nus,
Et le soleil, le soir, ruisselant et superbe,
Qui, derrière la vitre où se brisait sa gerbe
Semblait, grand oeil ouvert dans le ciel curieux,
Contempler nos dîners longs et silencieux,
Répandant largement ses beaux reflets de cierge
Sur la nappe frugale et les rideaux de serge.

Charles Baudelaire

I Have Not Forgotten Our White Cottage

I have not forgotten our white cottage,
Small but peaceful, near the city,
Its plaster Pomona, its old Venus,
Hiding their bare limbs in a stunted grove.
In the evening streamed down the radiant sun,
That great eye which stares from the inquisitive sky.
From behind the window that scattered its bright rays
It seemed to gaze upon our long, quiet dinners,
Spreading wide its candle-like reflections
On the frugal table-cloth and the serge curtains.

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

Neighbouring on the City, I Recall

Neighbouring on the city, I recall
Our snow-white house, so full of peace and small:
The casts of Venus and Pomona too
Whose limbs a tiny thicket hid from view.
The sun at eve, cascading fire and gold,
Behind the glass, his sheaf of rays unrolled,
Then, like an eye, inquisitively seemed
To watch our long, hushed dinners as we dreamed;
Like candle-flames his glories, as they poured,
Lit our serge curtains and our simple board.

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

A Memory

All this was long ago, but I do not forget
Our small white house, between the city and the farms;
The Venus, the Pomona, — l remember yet
How in the leaves they hid their chipping plaster charms;
And the majestic sun at evening, setting late,
Behind the pane that broke and scattered his bright rays,
How like an open eye he seemed to contemplate
Our long and silent dinners with a curious gaze:
The while his golden beams, like tapers burning there,
Made splendid the serge curtains and the simple fare.

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


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.