Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Le Possédé

Le soleil s'est couvert d'un crêpe. Comme lui,
Ô Lune de ma vie! emmitoufle-toi d'ombre
Dors ou fume à ton gré; sois muette, sois sombre,
Et plonge tout entière au gouffre de l'Ennui;

Je t'aime ainsi! Pourtant, si tu veux aujourd'hui,
Comme un astre éclipsé qui sort de la pénombre,
Te pavaner aux lieux que la Folie encombre
C'est bien! Charmant poignard, jaillis de ton étui!

Allume ta prunelle à la flamme des lustres!
Allume le désir dans les regards des rustres!
Tout de toi m'est plaisir, morbide ou pétulant;

Sois ce que tu voudras, nuit noire, rouge aurore;
II n'est pas une fibre en tout mon corps tremblant
Qui ne crie: Ô mon cher Belzébuth, je t'adore!

Charles Baudelaire

The One Possessed

The sun was covered with a crape. Like him,
Moon of my life! swathe yourself with darkness;
Sleep or smoke as you will; be silent, be somber,
And plunge your whole being into Ennui's abyss;

I love you thus! However, if today you wish,
Like an eclipsed star that leaves the half-light,
To strut in the places which Madness encumbers,
That is fine! Charming poniard spring out of your sheath!

Light your eyes at the flame of the lusters!
Kindle passion in the glances of churls!
To me you're all pleasure, morbid or petulant;

Be what you will, black night, red dawn;
There is no fiber in my whole trembling body
That does not cry: "Dear Beelzebub, I adore you!"

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

The Possessed

The sun in crepe has muffled up his fire.
Moon of my life! Half shade yourself like him.
Slumber or smoke. Be silent and be dim,
And in the gulf of boredom plunge entire;

I love you thus! However, if you like,
Like some bright star from its eclipse emerging,
To flaunt with Folly where the crowds are surging —
Flash, lovely dagger, from your sheath and strike!

Light up your eyes from chandeliers of glass!
Light up the lustful looks of louts that pass!
Morbid or petulant, I thrill before you.

Be what you will, black night or crimson dawn;
No fibre of my body tautly-drawn,
But cries: "Beloved demon, I adore you!"

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


My sun is eclipsed and moon in shadow.
Sleep, smoke, drink, dream, screw —
I'm destined for tedium.

The caves sharp enough for me
Are gambling successfully at Baden-Baden
While I've run out of schemes.

Something excite these luckless cells
Before my desires and pleasures
Grab their chance to die!

Testeless days, unocular nights
And I hear the cops have been beating
Bud Powell's head again.

— Will Schmitz

The Possessed One

The sun is enveloped in crape! like it,
O Moon of my Life! wrap thyself up in shade;
At will, smoke or slumber, be silent, be staid,
And dive deep down in Dispassion's dark pit.

I cherish thee thus! But if 'tis thy mood,
Like a star that from out its penumbra appears,
To float in the regions where madness careers,
Fair dagger! burst forth from thy sheath! 'tis good.

Yea, light up thine eyes at the Fire of Renown!
Or kindle desire by the looks of some clown!
Thine All is my joy, whether dull or aflame!

Just be what thou wilt, black night, dawn divine,
There is not a nerve in my trembling frame
But cries, "I adore thee, Beelzebub mine!"

— Cyril Scott, Baudelaire: The Flowers of Evil (London: Elkin Mathews, 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.