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Chant d'automne (Song Of Autumn)

Charles Baudelaire 1821 (Paris) – 1867 (Paris)

I

Bientôt nous plongerons dans les froides ténèbres;
Adieu, vive clarté de nos étés trop courts!
J'entends déjà tomber avec des chocs funèbres
Le bois retentissant sur le pavé des cours.

Tout l'hiver va rentrer dans mon être: colère,
Haine, frissons, horreur, labeur dur et forcé,
Et, comme le soleil dans son enfer polaire,
Mon coeur ne sera plus qu'un bloc rouge et glacé.

J'écoute en frémissant chaque bûche qui tombe
L'échafaud qu'on bâtit n'a pas d'écho plus sourd.
Mon esprit est pareil à la tour qui succombe
Sous les coups du bélier infatigable et lourd.

II me semble, bercé par ce choc monotone,
Qu'on cloue en grande hâte un cercueil quelque part.
Pour qui? — C'était hier l'été; voici l'automne!
Ce bruit mystérieux sonne comme un départ.

II

J'aime de vos longs yeux la lumière verdâtre,
Douce beauté, mais tout aujourd'hui m'est amer, Et rien, ni votre amour, ni le boudoir, ni l'âtre,
Ne me vaut le soleil rayonnant sur la mer.

Et pourtant aimez-moi, tendre coeur! soyez mère,
Même pour un ingrat, même pour un méchant;
Amante ou soeur, soyez la douceur éphémère
D'un glorieux automne ou d'un soleil couchant.

Courte tâche! La tombe attend; elle est avide!
Ah! laissez-moi, mon front posé sur vos genoux,
Goûter, en regrettant l'été blanc et torride,
De l'arrière-saison le rayon jaune et doux!

--------------------------------- ---------------------------------

Song of Autumn

I

Soon we shall plunge into the cold darkness;
Farewell, vivid brightness of our short-lived summers!
Already I hear the dismal sound of firewood
Falling with a clatter on the courtyard pavements.

All winter will possess my being: wrath,
Hate, horror, shivering, hard, forced labor,
And, like the sun in his polar Hades,
My heart will be no more than a frozen red block.

All atremble I listen to each falling log;
The building of a scaffold has no duller sound.
My spirit resembles the tower which crumbles
Under the tireless blows of the battering ram.

It seems to me, lulled by these monotonous shocks,
That somewhere they're nailing a coffin, in great haste.
For whom? — Yesterday was summer; here is autumn
That mysterious noise sounds like a departure.

II

I love the greenish light of your long eyes,
Sweet beauty, but today all to me is bitter;
Nothing, neither your love, your boudoir, nor your hearth
Is worth as much as the sunlight on the sea.

Yet, love me, tender heart! be a mother,
Even to an ingrate, even to a scapegrace;
Mistress or sister, be the fleeting sweetness
Of a gorgeous autumn or of a setting sun.

Short task! The tomb awaits; it is avid!
Ah! let me, with my head bowed on your knees,
Taste the sweet, yellow rays of the end of autumn,
While I mourn for the white, torrid summer!

Translated by William Aggeler

--------------------------------- ---------------------------------

Song of Autumn

I

Soon into frozen shades, like leaves, we'll tumble.
Adieu, short summer's blaze, that shone to mock.
I hear already the funereal rumble
Of logs, as on the paving-stones they shock.

Winter will enter in my soul to dwell
Rage, hate, fear, horror, labour forced and dire!
My heart will seem, to sun that polar hell,
A dim, red, frozen block, devoid of fire.

Shuddering I hear the heavy thud of fuel.
The building of a gallows sounds as good!
My spirit, like a tower, reels to the cruel
Battering-ram in every crash of wood.

The ceaseless echoes rock me and appal.
They're nailing up a coffin, I'll be bound,
For whom? — Last night was Summer. Here's the Fall.
There booms a farewell volley in the sound.

II

I like die greenish light in your long eyes,
Dear: but today all things are sour to me.
And naught, your hearth, your boudoir, nor your sighs
Are worth the sun that glitters on the sea.

Yet love me, tender heart, as mothers cherish
A thankless wretch, Lover or sister, be
Ephemeral sweetness of the suns that perish
Or glory of the autumn swift to flee.

Brief task! The charnel yawns in hunger horrid,
Yet let me with my head upon your knees,
Although I mourn the summer, white and torrid
Taste these last yellow rays before they freeze.

Translated by Roy Campbell

--------------------------------- ---------------------------------

Chant d'automne

I

soon shall we plunge 'neath winter's icy pall;
farewell, bright fires of too-brief July!
even now I hear the knell funereal
of falling fire-logs in the court close by.

once more on me shall winter all unroll:
wrath, hatred, shivering dread, Toil
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:54 min read
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Charles Baudelaire

Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. more…

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