Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Le Tonneau de la Haine

La Haine est le tonneau des pâles Danaïdes;
La Vengeance éperdue aux bras rouges et forts
À beau précipiter dans ses ténèbres vides
De grands seaux pleins du sang et des larmes des morts,

Le Démon fait des trous secrets à ces abîmes,
Par où fuiraient mille ans de sueurs et d'efforts,
Quand même elle saurait ranimer ses victimes,
Et pour les pressurer ressusciter leurs corps.

La Haine est un ivrogne au fond d'une taverne,
Qui sent toujours la soif naître de la liqueur
Et se multiplier comme l'hydre de Lerne.

— Mais les buveurs heureux connaissent leur vainqueur,
Et la Haine est vouée à ce sort lamentable
De ne pouvoir jamais s'endormir sous la table.

Charles Baudelaire

Hatred's Cask

Hatred is the cask of the pale Danaides;
Bewildered Vengeance with arms red and strong
Vainly pours into its empty darkness
Great pailfuls of the blood and the tears of the dead;

The Demon makes secret holes in this abyss,
Whence would escape a thousand years of sweat and strain,
Even if she could revive her victims,
Could restore their bodies, to squeeze them dry once more.

Hatred is a drunkard in a tavern,
Who feels his thirst grow greater with each drink
And multiply itself like the Lernaean hydra.

— While fortunate drinkers know they can be conquered,
Hatred is condemned to this lamentable fate,
That she can never fall asleep beneath the table.

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

The Cask of Hate

The Cask of the pale Danaids is Hate.
Vainly Revenge, with red strong arms employed,
Precipitates her buckets, in a spate
Of blood and tears, to feed the empty void.

The Fiend bores secret holes to these abysms
By which a thousand years of sweat and strain
Escape, though she'd revive their organisms
In order just to bleed them once again.

Hate is a drunkard in a tavern staying,
Who feels his thirst born of its very cure,
Like Lerna's hydra, multiplied by slaying.

Gay drinkers of their conqueror are sure,
And Hate is doomed to a sad fate, unable
Ever to fall and snore beneath the table.

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


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.