Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil


Si par une nuit lourde et sombre
Un bon chrétien, par charité,
Derrière quelque vieux décombre
Enterre votre corps vanté,

À l'heure où les chastes étoiles
Ferment leurs yeux appesantis,
L'araignée y fera ses toiles,
Et la vipère ses petits;

Vous entendrez toute l'année
Sur votre tête condamnée
Les cris lamentables des loups

Et des sorcières faméliques,
Les ébats des vieillards lubriques
Et les complots des noirs filous.

Charles Baudelaire


If on a dismal, sultry night
Some good Christian, through charity,
Will bury your vaunted body
Behind the ruins of a building

At the hour when the chaste stars
Close their eyes, heavy with sleep,
The spider will make his webs there,
And the viper his progeny;

You will hear all year long
Above your damned head
The mournful cries of wolves

And of the half-starved witches,
The frolics of lustful old men
And the plots of vicious robbers.

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

The Burial of an Accursed Poet

If on a night obscure and deep,
Some decent Christian, out of ruth,
Buries behind some garbage-heap
The vaunted body of your youth:

There, when the chaster stars have set
And the moon her hammock slung
Will the spider weave his net
And the adder batch her young.

Your curse'd head beneath the ground
Will hear, through all the seasons then,
The dismal cries of wolves resound,

Old half-starved witches raising spooks,
The antics of obscene old men,
And black conspiracies of crooks.

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


If on a dark and leaden night
Some Christian soul, through charity,
Bury your body, once so bright,
By some ruined tenement's debris,
At the dim hour when starlight ebbs
And the stars doze against the dawn,
There shall the spider weave his webs
And there the viper breed his spawn.

There ceaselessly throughout the year
Over your damned head you shall hear
Dour wails of wolves and crazy rhymes
Of starveling witches and grim snorts
Of greybeard lechers at their sports
And evil robbers hatching crimes.

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

The Burial of an Accursed Poet

If haply one dark, dreary night
Some charitable soul appear
And 'neath old rubble stow from sight
The body that you held so dear —

What time the chaste stars veil their eyes,
Drowsy and fain for slumber, there
Spiders shall weave their traceries.
Vipers their spotted young shall bear.

Above your doomed head you will hear
Each night throughout the heavy year
The lean wolves' melancholy cries,

Famished hags' bowlings for a crust,
Lewd pastimes of old men who lust,
And scoundrels' dark conspiracies.

— Jack Collings Squire, Poems and Baudelaire Flowers (London: The New Age Press, Ltd, 1909)


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.