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Le Masque (The Mask)

Charles Baudelaire 1821 (Paris) – 1867 (Paris)

Statue allégorique dans le goût de la Renaissance

Contemplons ce trésor de grâces florentines;
Dans l'ondulation de ce corps musculeux
L'Elégance et la Force abondent, soeurs divines.
Cette femme, morceau vraiment miraculeux,
Divinement robuste, adorablement mince,
Est faite pour trôner sur des lits somptueux
Et charmer les loisirs d'un pontife ou d'un prince.

— Aussi, vois ce souris fin et voluptueux
Où la Fatuité promène son extase;
Ce long regard sournois, langoureux et moqueur;
Ce visage mignard, tout encadré de gaze,
Dont chaque trait nous dit avec un air vainqueur:
«La Volupté m'appelle et l'Amour me couronne!»
À cet être doué de tant de majesté
Vois quel charme excitant la gentillesse donne!
Approchons, et tournons autour de sa beauté.

Ô blasphème de l'art! ô surprise fatale!
La femme au corps divin, promettant le bonheur,Par le haut se termine en monstre bicéphale!

— Mais non! ce n'est qu'un masque, un décor suborneur,
Ce visage éclairé d'une exquise grimace,
Et, regarde, voici, crispée atrocement,
La véritable tête, et la sincère face
Renversée à l'abri de la face qui ment
Pauvre grande beauté! le magnifique fleuve
De tes pleurs aboutit dans mon coeur soucieux
Ton mensonge m'enivre, et mon âme s'abreuve
Aux flots que la Douleur fait jaillir de tes yeux!

— Mais pourquoi pleure-t-elle? Elle, beauté parfaite,
Qui mettrait à ses pieds le genre humain vaincu,
Quel mal mystérieux ronge son flanc d'athlète?

— Elle pleure insensé, parce qu'elle a vécu!
Et parce qu'elle vit! Mais ce qu'elle déplore
Surtout, ce qui la fait frémir jusqu'aux genoux,
C'est que demain, hélas! il faudra vivre encore!
Demain, après-demain et toujours! — comme nous!

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

The Mask

Allegorical Statue in the Style of the Renaissance

Let us gaze at this gem of Florentine beauty;
In the undulation of this brawny body
Those divine sisters, Gracefulness and Strength, abound.
This woman, a truly miraculous marble,
Adorably slender, divinely robust,
Is made to be enthroned upon sumptuous beds
And to charm the leisure of a Pope or a Prince.

— And see that smile, voluptuous and delicate,
Where self-conceit displays its ecstasy;
That sly, lingering look, mocking and languorous;
That dainty face, framed in a veil of gauze,
Whose every feature says, with a triumphant air:
'Pleasure calls me and Love gives me a crown!'
To that being endowed with so much majesty
See what exciting charm is lent by prettiness!
Let us draw near, and walk around its loveliness.

O blasphemy of art! Fatal surprise!
That exquisite body, that promise of delight,
At the top turns into a two-headed monster!

Why no! it's but a mask, a lying ornament,
That visage enlivened by a dainty grimace,
And look, here is, atrociously shriveled,
The real, true head, the sincere countenance
Reversed and hidden by the lying face.
Poor glamorous beauty! the magnificent stream
Of your tears flows into my anguished heart;
Your falsehood makes me drunk and my soul slakes its thirst
At the flood from your eyes, which Suffering causes!

— But why is she weeping? She, the perfect beauty,
Who could put at her feet the conquered human race,
What secret malady gnaws at those sturdy flanks?

— She is weeping, fool, because she has lived!
And because she lives! But what she deplores
Most, what makes her shudder down to her knees,
Is that tomorrow, alas! she will still have to live!
Tomorrow, after tomorrow, always! — like us!

Translated by William Aggeler

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

The Mask

(An allegoric statue in Renaissance style)

vStudy with me this Florentinian treasure,
Whose undulous and muscular design
Welds Grace with Strength in sisterhood divine;
A marvel only wonderment can measure,
Divinely strong, superbly slim and fine,
She's formed to reign upon a bed of pleasure
And charm some prince or pontiff in his leisure.

See, too, her smile voluptuously shine,
Where sheer frivolity displays its sign:
That lingering look of languor, guile, and cheek,
The dainty face, which veils of gauze enshrine,
That seems in conquering accents thus to speak:

'Pleasure commands me. Love my brow has crowned!'
Enamouring our thoughts in humble duty,
True majesty with merriment is found.
Approach, let's take a turn about her beauty.
O blasphemy! Dread shock! Our hopes to pique,
This lovely body, promising delight,
Ends at the top in a two-headed freak.

But no! it's just a mask tha
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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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