Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Abel et Caïn


Race d'Abel, dors, bois et mange;
Dieu te sourit complaisamment.

Race de Caïn, dans la fange
Rampe et meurs misérablement.

Race d'Abel, ton sacrifice
Flatte le nez du Séraphin!

Race de Caïn, ton supplice
Aura-t-il jamais une fin?

Race d'Abel, vois tes semailles
Et ton bétail venir à bien;

Race de Caïn, tes entrailles
Hurlent la faim comme un vieux chien.

Race d'Abel, chauffe ton ventre
À ton foyer patriarcal;

Race de Caïn, dans ton antre
Tremble de froid, pauvre chacal!

Race d'Abel, aime et pullule!
Ton or fait aussi des petits.

Race de Caïn, coeur qui brûle,
Prends garde à ces grands appétits.

Race d'Abel, tu croîs et broutes
Comme les punaises des bois!

Race de Caïn, sur les routes
Traîne ta famille aux abois.


Ah! race d'Abel, ta charogne
Engraissera le sol fumant!

Race de Caïn, ta besogne
N'est pas faite suffisamment;

Race d'Abel, voici ta honte:
Le fer est vaincu par l'épieu!

Race de Caïn, au ciel monte,
Et sur la terre jette Dieu!

Charles Baudelaire

Cain and Abel


Race of Abel, sleep, eat and drink;
God smiles on you complacently.

Race of Cain, crawl on your belly,
Die in the mire wretchedly.

Race of Abel, your sacrifice
Delights the nose of the Seraphim!

Race of Cain, will there ever be
An ending to your punishment?

Race of Abel, see your sowing
And your cattle thrive and flourish;

Race of Cain, your bowels
Howl with hunger like an old dog.

Race of Abel, warm your belly
At your patriarchal hearth;

Race of Cain, shiver with the cold
In your cavern, wretched jackal!

Race of Abel, love, pullulate!
Even your gold has progeny.

Race of Cain, with the burning heart,
Beware of those intense desires.

Race of Abel, you browse and grow
Like the insects of the forest!

Race of Cain, along the highways
Drag your destitute family.


Ah! race of Abel, your carcass
Will fertilize the steaming soil!

Race of Cain, your appointed task
Has not been adequately done;

Race of Abel, your disgrace is:
The sword is conquered by the pike!

Race of Cain, ascend to heaven,
And cast God down upon the earth!

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

Abel and Cain


Race of Abel! eat, sleep, drink.
God smiles on those that he prefers.
Race of Cain!in swamps that stink,
Crawl, and die the death of curs.
Race of Abel! your crops sprout,
And your flocks are safe and sound.
Race of Cain! your guts howl out
In hunger, like an ancient hound.
Race of Abel! warm your guts
At the patriarchal fire.
Race of Cain! in caves and huts
Shiver like jackals in the mire.
Race of Abel! Pullulate :
Your gold too procreates its kind.
Race of Cain! Hearts hot with hate,
Leave all such appetites behind.
Race of Abel! grow and graze,
Like woodlice that on timbers prey.
Race of Cain! along rough ways
Lead forth your family at bay.


Ah! Race of Abel! your fat carrion
Will well manure the soil it presses.
Race of Cain! One task to carry on
Remains for you, a task that presses.
Race of Abel! Shame is nigh.
The coulter's beaten by the sword.
Race of Cain, climb up the sky,
And to the earth hurl down the Lord.

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

Abel and Cain


Race of Abel, eat, sleep and drink;
God smiles on you approvingly.

Race of Cain, in filth and stink
Grovel and die, miserably.

Race of Abel, your offering
Flatters the angelic nose !

Race of Cain, what time will bring
The end of your torment and woes ?

Race of Abel, your seeds take root,
And see how all your cattle prosper;

Race of Cain, within your gut
Howls hunger like an ancient cur.

Race of Abel, your innards take
Warmth from the patriarchal hearth;

Race of Cain, poor jackal, shake
With cold, crouched in the hollowed earth !

Race of Abel, make love and spawn !
Your gold spawns also in its right.

Race of Cain, you hearts that burn,
Beware of such great appetite.

Race of Abel, you browse and breed
As wanton as an orchard pest.

Race of Cain, along the roadside
Drag your family, hard pressed.


Ah ! race of Abel, your fat carcass
Will enrich the reeking soil !

Race of Cain, your hard work is
Not finished yet in spite of all;

Race of Abel, here your shame lies :
The sword lost to the hunter’s rod !

Race of Cain, mount to the skies
And down upon the earth cast God !

— Kenneth O. Hanson, Flowers of Evil (NY: New Directions, 1955)

Abel and Cain


Tribe of Abel, sleep, drink and eat, for God gives you his indulgent smile.
Tribe of Cain, crawl in the shit, die like a dog.
Tribe of Abel, how sweet your offerings smell in the nostrils of the Seraphim.
Tribe of Cain, will your agony never end?
Tribe of Abel, see how your seed prospers, how your cattle thrive.
Tribe of Cain, your guts howl with hunger like an old cur.
Tribe of Abel, warm your belly before the patriarch's hearth.
Tribe of Cain, tremble with cold in your hole in the ground, you miserable jackal.
Tribe of Abel, be amorous and increase: your gold also will multiply.
Tribe of Cain, however much your heart might burn with love, beware of all great desires.
Tribe of Abel, bloat and guzzle like woodlice.
Tribe of Cain, drag your hounded wife and children with you down the roads.


Tribe of Abel, one day your carcass will manure the fetid soil.
Tribe of Cain, your task is not yet done.
Tribe of Abel, your shame will come when the sword is shattered by the peasants' stake.
Tribe of Cain, ascend to heaven, and throw God down to earth.

— Francis Scarfe, Baudelaire: The Complete Verse (London: Anvil, 1986)


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.