Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Le Vin du solitaire

Le regard singulier d'une femme galante
Qui se glisse vers nous comme le rayon blanc
Que la lune onduleuse envoie au lac tremblant,
Quand elle y veut baigner sa beauté nonchalante;

Le dernier sac d'écus dans les doigts d'un joueur;
Un baiser libertin de la maigre Adeline;
Les sons d'une musique énervante et câline,
Semblable au cri lointain de l'humaine douleur,

Tout cela ne vaut pas, ô bouteille profonde,
Les baumes pénétrants que ta panse féconde
Garde au coeur altéré du poète pieux;

Tu lui verses l'espoir, la jeunesse et la vie,
— Et l'orgueil, ce trésor de toute gueuserie,
Qui nous rend triomphants et semblables aux Dieux!

Charles Baudelaire

The Wine of the Solitary

The strange look of a lady of pleasure
Turned slyly toward us like the white beam
Which the undulous moon casts on the trembling lake
When she wishes to bathe her nonchalant beauty;

The last bag of crowns between a gambler's fingers;
A lustful kiss from slender Adeline;
The sound of music, tormenting and caressing,
Resembling the distant cry of a man in pain,

All that is not worth, O deep, deep bottle,
The penetrating balm that your fruitful belly
Holds for the thirsty heart of the pious poet;

You pour out for him hope, and youth, and life
— And pride, the treasure of all beggary,
Which makes us triumphant and equal to the gods!

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

The Wine of the Solitary Man

The love-glance of a courtesan that swims
With undulating ray like that the moon
Sends to the waiting, tremulous lagoon
Where she's about to lave her languid limbs:

The last few florins in a gambler's fingers:
The lustful kiss of slender Adeline:
A haunting tune that wheedles and malingers,
Wherein all human anguish seems to pine:

All these aren't worth, O bottle kind and deep,
The penetrating balms that swell your paunch
The pious poet's wounded heart to staunch.

You pour him hope, youth, life, and healing sleep —
And pride, all Beggary's diadem and treasure,
By which our triumphs with the Gods' we measure.

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

Le Vin du solitaire

the wildering glances of a harlot fair
seen gliding toward us like the silver wake
of undulant moonlight on the quivering lake
when Phoebe bathes her languorous beauty there;

the last gold coins a gambler's fingers hold;
the wanton kiss of love-worn Adeline,
the wheedling songs that leave the will supine
— like far-off cries of sorrow unconsoled —

all these, o bottle deep, were never worth
the pungent balsams in thy fertile girth
stored for the pious poet's thirsty heart;

thou pourest hope and youth and strength anew,
— and pride, this treasure of the beggar-crew,
that lifts us like triumphant gods, apart!

— Lewis Piaget Shanks, Flowers of Evil (New York: Ives Washburn, 1931)


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.