Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

La Fin de la Journée

Sous une lumière blafarde
Court, danse et se tord sans raison
La Vie, impudente et criarde.
Aussi, sitôt qu'à l'horizon

La nuit voluptueuse monte,
Apaisant tout, même la faim,
Effaçant tout, même la honte,
Le Poète se dit: «Enfin!

Mon esprit, comme mes vertèbres,
Invoque ardemment le repos;
Le coeur plein de songes funèbres,

Je vais me coucher sur le dos
Et me rouler dans vos rideaux,
Ô rafraîchissantes ténèbres!»

Charles Baudelaire

The End of the Day

Under a pallid light, noisy,
Impudent Life runs and dances,
Twists and turns, for no good reason
So, as soon as voluptuous

Night rises from the horizon,
Assuaging all, even hunger,
Effacing all, even shame,
The Poet says to himself: "At last!

My spirit, like my vertebrae,
Passionately invokes repose;
With a heart full of gloomy dreams,

I shall lie down flat on my back
And wrap myself in your curtains,
O refreshing shadows!"

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

The End of the Day

Under the wan, dejected skies,
Impudent, raucous, full of treason,
This life runs dancing without reason.
Voluptuous night begins to rise,

Appeasing even those who fast,
Ravenous hunger making tame,
And hiding all things, even shame,
Until the Poet says, "At last

My spirit, like my weary spine,
Can do with slumber, that is certain,
Sad dreams invade this heart of mine.

I'm off to lie down on my back,
And roll myself into your curtain,
Refreshing shadows, dense and black!"

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

The End of the Day

Under a sallow light
Runs insolent, shrieking Life,
Dancing and twisting capriciously.
Then, as soon as sensual night

Climbs the horizon
Hushing all, even hunger,
Effacng all, even shame,
The Poet says to himself: "At last

My spirit like my bones
Pleads dearly for repose;
My heart is full of melancholy dreams,

And I go and lie on my back
Coiling myself in your curtains,
O restoring darkness!"

— Geoffrey Wagner, Selected Poems of Charles Baudelaire (NY: Grove Press, 1974)


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.