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  • Writer's pictureGrace Phan Jones

Spleen II


Original translation of Charles Baudelaire's "Spleen II" from Les Fleurs du Mal


Spleen II

I have more souvenirs than had I a thousand years of age.

A ponderous dresser with drawers, burdened by balance sheets,

By verses, by valentines, by lawsuits, by loves,

With heavy locks of hair rolled up in receipts,

Conceals fewer secrets than my disconsolate brain. (5)

It’s a pyramid, an immense vault,

That contains more dead than the pauper’s grave.

—I am a cemetery abhorred by the moon,

Where, like remorse, long verses worm around:

They always harass the words I hold dearest. (10)

I am an agèd boudoir full of withered roses,

Where lies a whole mess of outdated trends,

Where only the tired pastels and the pale Boucher’s

Inspire the odor of an uncorked flask.

Nothing can match the duration of the days that limp along, (15)

When beneath the heavy flakes of snowy years

Ennui, fruit of sullen incuriosity,

Takes on the proportions of immortality.

—Henceforth you are no more, O living ὕλη!

Than a hunk of granite encircled by a vague horror (20)

Dozing in the depths of a hazy Sahara;

An agèd sphinx ignored by the insouciant crowd,

Forgotten on the map, and whose brutal humor

Sings but for the setting sun.

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