Self Portrait by Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire's
Fleurs du mal / Flowers of Evil

Bien loin d'ici

C'est ici la case sacrée
Où cette fille très parée,
Tranquille et toujours préparée,

D'une main éventant ses seins,
Et son coude dans les coussins,
Écoute pleurer les bassins:

C'est la chambre de Dorothée.
— La brise et l'eau chantent au loin
Leur chanson de sanglots heurtée
Pour bercer cette enfant gâtée.

Du haut en bas, avec grand soin.
Sa peau délicate est frottée
D'huile odorante et de benjoin.
— Des fleurs se pâment dans un coin.

Charles Baudelaire

Very Far From Here

This is the sacred dwelling
In which that much adorned maiden
Calm and always prepared

Listens to the fountains weeping,
Fanning her breast with her hand,
Her elbow resting on the cushions;

It's the bedroom of Dorothy.
— Far off the breeze and waters sing
Their broken, sobbing song
To lull to sleep this pampered child.

From head to foot, with greatest care
Her delicate skin is polished
With perfumed oil and benzoin.
— Flowers swoon in a corner.

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

Far Away From Here

This is the room, the sacred nest
Of that girl so richly dressed,
Tranquil and ready for her guest.

With one hand she fans her nipples
Elbow on the couch at rest
Listening to the ponds and ripples.

This room is Dorothy's. The play
Of wind and water, far away,
With fainting song and rhythmic sobs,
Through her reverie hums and throbs.

From head to toe with greatest care
Her skin is polished, to adorn her
With benjamin and oils as rare...
Some flowers are swooning in a corner.

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

Ever So Far from Here

This is the house, the sacred box,
Where, always draped in languorous frocks,
And always at home if someone knocks,

One elbow into the pillow pressed,
She lies, and lazily fans her breast,
While fountains weep their soulfullest:

This is the chamber of Dorothy.
— Fountain and breeze for her alone
Sob in that soothing undertone.
Was ever so spoiled a harlot known?

With odorous oils and rosemary,
Benzoin and every unguent grown,
Her skin is rubbed most delicately.
— The flowers are faint with ecstasy.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)

Bien loin d'ici

Here is the chamber consecrate,
Wherein this maiden delicate,
And enigmatically sedate,

Fans herself while the moments creep,
Upon her cushions half-asleep,
And hears the fountains plash and weep.

Dorothy's chamber undefiled.
The winds and waters sing afar
Their song of sighing strange and wild
To lull to sleep the petted child.

From head to foot with subtle care,
Slaves have perfumed her delicate skin
With odorous oils and benzoin.
And flowers faint in a corner there.

— F.P. Sturm, from Baudelaire: His Prose and Poetry, edited by Thomas Robert Smith (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1919)


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.