Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Les Deux Bonnes Soeurs

La Débauche et la Mort sont deux aimables filles,
Prodigues de baisers et riches de santé,
Dont le flanc toujours vierge et drapé de guenilles
Sous l'éternel labeur n'a jamais enfanté.

Au poète sinistre, ennemi des familles,
Favori de l'enfer, courtisan mal renté,
Tombeaux et lupanars montrent sous leurs charmilles
Un lit que le remords n'a jamais fréquenté.

Et la bière et l'alcôve en blasphèmes fécondes
Nous offrent tour à tour, comme deux bonnes soeurs,
De terribles plaisirs et d'affreuses douceurs.

Quand veux-tu m'enterrer, Débauche aux bras immondes?
Ô Mort, quand viendras-tu, sa rivale en attraits,
Sur ses myrtes infects enter tes noirs cyprès?

Charles Baudelaire

The Two Good Sisters

Debauchery and Death are two lovable girls,
Lavish with their kisses and rich with health,
Whose ever-virgin loins, draped with tattered clothes and
Burdened with constant work, have never given birth.

To the sinister poet, foe of families,
Poorly paid courtier, favorite of hell,
Graves and brothels show beneath their bowers
A bed in which remorse has never slept.

The bier and the alcove, fertile in blasphemies
Like two good sisters, offer to us in turn
Terrible pleasures and frightful sweetness.

When will you bury me, Debauch with the filthy arms?
Death, her rival in charms, when will you come
To graft black cypress on her infected myrtle?

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

The Two Good Sisters

Debauchery and Death are pleasant twins,
And lavish with their charms, a buxom pair!
Under the rags that clothe their virgin skins,
Their wombs, though still in labour, never bear.

For the curst poet, foe to married rest,
The friend of hell, and courtier on half-pay —
Brothels and tombs reserve for such a guest
A bed on which repentance never lay.

Both tomb and bed, in blasphemy so fecund
Each other's hospitality to second,
Prepare grim treats, and hatch atrocious things.

Debauch, when will you bury me? When, Death,
Mingle your Cypress in the selfsame wreath
With the infected Myrtles that she brings?

— 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.