13 July 2018

Translation: Louise Ackermann's To an Artist

To an Artist

Since even those who are happiest face infinite pain,
Since the ground is cold and the sky looms dark,
Since mankind here below wanders sullen in vain,
Among futile regrets and fleeting amorous darts, 

What to make of life? Oh our immortal souls,
Where to direct your desires and your secret urges?
You would possess, but here all quivers and prowls;
You want to love forever, but near death emerges.     

It’s better yet in some austere study to immerse 
Ourselves, and in an enchanted world too,
And in our beloved art to contemplate on earth,
Through one of its facets, beauty pure and true.    

Artist of unclouded brow, you have grasped it from above, 
You, whom, of all the arts, the sweetest hath drawn near,
Who envelops it in faith, a cult, tender love,
At a time when faith, cult and love, all disappear.

Ah! And as for us, for whom weakness is mistress, 
And who lack a flame to light the shadows we tread,
We step over brambles and cry out in distress,   
Walk in your bright path that you have always lead.    

Walk! so that the sky may love and smile upon thee,
So you can yearn for it yourself with a holy fire,
And outwit, your heart full of your idolatry,
The eternal pain and immense desire. 

06 July 2018

Translation: Charles Baudelaire's Beauty

I am fair, oh mortals! like a stoney dream,
And my breast, where each has been bruised shard by shard, 
Is made to inspire a love in the bard
Eternal and mute like matter serene.

I reign in the sky like a quizzical sphinx
Marrying a snow heart with the swan’s white;
I loath movement in the lines however slight,
Never in tears or laughter do I sink.

Poets, in the face of my grandiose airs,
which I seem to borrow from the proudest marvels
Will consume their days in austere study snares;

For I have, to fascinate these sheepish lovers, 
Pure mirrors, which render all more fair and tender:
My eyes, my large eyes of eternal splendor.