La Muse Malade (The Sick Muse)

Charles Baudelaire 1821 (Paris) – 1867 (Paris)



Ma pauvre muse, hélas! qu'as-tu donc ce matin?
Tes yeux creux sont peuplés de visions nocturnes,
Et je vois tour à tour réfléchis sur ton teint
La folie et l'horreur, froides et taciturnes.

Le succube verdâtre et le rose lutin
T'ont-ils versé la peur et l'amour de leurs urnes?
Le cauchemar, d'un poing despotique et mutin
T'a-t-il noyée au fond d'un fabuleux Minturnes?

Je voudrais qu'exhalant l'odeur de la santé
Ton sein de pensers forts fût toujours fréquenté,
Et que ton sang chrétien coulât à flots rythmiques,

Comme les sons nombreux des syllabes antiques,
Où règnent tour à tour le père des chansons,
Phoebus, et le grand Pan, le seigneur des moissons.

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

The Sick Muse

My poor Muse, alas! what ails you today?
Your hollow eyes are full of nocturnal visions;
I see in turn reflected on your face
Horror and madness, cold and taciturn.

Have the green succubus, the rosy elf,
Poured out for you love and fear from their urns?
Has the hand of Nightmare, cruel and despotic,
Plunged you to the bottom of some weird Minturnae?

I would that your bosom, fragrant with health,
Were constantly the dwelling place of noble thoughts,
And that your Christian blood would flow in rhythmic waves

Like the measured sounds of ancient verse,
Over which reign in turn the father of all songs,
Phoebus, and the great Pan, lord of harvest.

Translated by William Aggeler

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

The Sick Muse

Alas, poor Muse, what ails you so today?
Your hollow eyes with midnight visions burn,
And turn about, in your complexion play
Madness and horror, cold and taciturn.

Green succubus and rosy imp — have they
Poured you both fear and love into one glass?
Or with his tyrant fist the nightmare, say,
Submerged you in some fabulous morass?

I wish that, breathing health, your breast might nourish
Ever robuster thoughts therein to flourish:
And that your Christian blood, in rhythmic flow,

With those old polysyllables would chime,
Where, turn about, reigned Phoebus, sire of rhyme,
And Pan, the lord of harvests long ago.

Translated by Roy Campbell

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

La Muse malade

poor Muse, alas! what ails thee now? for thy
great hollow eyes with sights nocturnal burn,
and in they changing pallor I descry
madness and frozen horror, turn by turn.

did rosy sprites or pale green succubi
pour love or panic from their dream-filled urn?
did the mad fist of despot nightmare try
to drown thee where the fiends of hell sojourn?

I would that thou wert always filled with health
and manly thoughts undaunted; that a wealth
of Christian blood were thine, which always flowed

in calm broad rhythms like a Grecian ode,
now echoing forth Apollo's golden strain,
and now great Pan, the lord of ripening grain.

Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks

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

The Sick Mused

My impoverished muse, alas! What have you for me this morning?
Your empty eyes are stocked with nocturnal visions,
In your cheek's cold and taciturn reflection,
I see insanity and horror forming.
The green succubus and the red urchin,
Have they poured you fear and love from their urns?
The nightmare of a mutinous fist that despotically turns,
Does it drown you at the bottom of a loch beyond searching?

I wish that your breast exhaled the scent of sanity,
That your womb of thought was not a tomb more frequently
And that your Christian blood flowed around a buoy that was rhythmical,

Like the numberless sounds of antique syllables,
Where reigns in turn the father of songs,
Phoebus, and the great Pan, the harvest sovereign.

Translated by William A. Sigler

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on April 20, 2023

3:06 min read
158

Quick analysis:

Scheme abcb abab ccb bbb B cbba xbxa dbb bbc e B cafa fbbb ggh iih x c xaea xaea ddc caa b c jbajabbj cxf bba e
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 3,718
Words 609
Stanzas 27
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1, 4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1, 4, 4, 3, 3, 1, 1, 8, 3, 3, 1

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…

All Charles Baudelaire poems | Charles Baudelaire Books

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