Because Blogger's "Adult warning" often goes into a perpetual loop (isn't working properly), I will be making all new posts at my WordPress blog. You can follow it even if you do not have a WordPress Account. There're also my Twitter and my Tumblr blog, my Facebook and my Google+ page and my group.
(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recueillement

Sunset at Cape Sounion



Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir: il descend, le voici:
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,

Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.


Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,

Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,

Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,

Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,
Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées.
Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le Soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche;
Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,
Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.
 
Be good, o my pain, and more tranquil 
You craved evening: it's descending, here it is:
An atmosphere obscure envelops the town
to some bringing peace, to others worry
 
While the vile multitude of mortals 
Under the whip of Pleasure, that merciless hangman
go to pluck remorse in servile festivity,
My Pain, give me your hand, come this way,

Far from them. See how the defunct years lean
over the balconies of the sky, in outdated robes.
S
miling Regret rising from the waters' deeps;

The decayed sun going to sleep beneath an arch;
And, like a long shroud trailing to the Orient,
Hear, my darling, hear the sweet Night approach.


There are still some pleasures left me. I cannot write good poetry, even in English (see for yourself my translation above).  But I can enjoy it, I can relish it, I can luxuriate in the poetry of others.  The pleasures of the body pass, but those of the mind remain with you always.

How utterly magnificent this poem of Baudelaire's is.  The title means "Meditation".   Pain and loss and the vile multitude.  As I watch the sunset, as I am now while I type this -- often a risky time for my peace of mind -- these words written so long ago bring me comfort. 

[You can buy a print of this remarkable photo here]  

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