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Le Mort Joyeux (The Joyful Corpse)

Charles Baudelaire 1821 (Paris) – 1867 (Paris)

Dans une terre grasse et pleine d'escargots
Je veux creuser moi-même une fosse profonde,
Où je puisse à loisir étaler mes vieux os
Et dormir dans l'oubli comme un requin dans l'onde.

Je hais les testaments et je hais les tombeaux;
Plutôt que d'implorer une larme du monde,
Vivant, j'aimerais mieux inviter les corbeaux
À saigner tous les bouts de ma carcasse immonde.

Ô vers! noirs compagnons sans oreille et sans yeux,
Voyez venir à vous un mort libre et joyeux;
Philosophes viveurs, fils de la pourriture,

À travers ma ruine allez donc sans remords,
Et dites-moi s'il est encor quelque torture
Pour ce vieux corps sans âme et mort parmi les morts!

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

The Joyful Corpse

In a rich, heavy soil, infested with snails,
I wish to dig my own grave, wide and deep,
Where I can at leisure stretch out my old bones
And sleep in oblivion like a shark in the wave.

I have a hatred for testaments and for tombs;
Rather than implore a tear of the world,
I'd sooner, while alive, invite the crows
To drain the blood from my filthy carcass.

O worms! black companions with neither eyes nor ears,
See a dead man, joyous and free, approaching you;
Wanton philosophers, children of putrescence,

Go through my ruin then, without remorse,
And tell me if there still remains any torture
For this old soulless body, dead among the dead!

Translated by William Aggeler

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

The Joyous Dead

In a fat, greasy soil, that's full of snails,
I'll dig a grave deep down, where I may sleep
Spreading my bones at ease, to drowse in deep
Oblivion, as a shark within the wave.

I hate all tombs, and testaments, and wills:
I want no human tears; I'd like it more,
That ravens could attack me with their bills,
To broach my carcase of its living gore.

O worms! black friends, who cannot hear or see,
A free and joyous corpse behold in me!
You philosophic souls, corruption-bred,

Plough through my ruins! eat your merry way!
And if there are yet further torments, say,
For this old soulless corpse among the dead.

Translated by Roy Campbell

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

The Happy Dead Man

Slowly, luxuriously, I will hollow a deep grave,
With my own hands, in rich black snail-frequented soil,
And lay me down, forspent with that voluptuous toil,
And go to sleep, as happy as a shark in the wave.

No funeral for me, no sepulcher, no hymns;
Rather than beg for pity when alive, God knows,
I have lain sick and shelterless, and let the crows
Stab to their hearts' content at my lean festering limbs.

O worms! my small black comrades without ears or eyes,
Taste now for once a mortal who lies down in bliss.
O blithe materialists! O vermin of my last bed!

Come, march remorselessly through me. Come, and devise
Some curious new torment, if you can, for this
Old body without soul and deader than the dead.

Translated by George Dillon

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

Joyful Corpse

In a rich fertile loam where snails recess,
I wish to dig my own deep roomy grave,
There to stretch out my old bones, motionless,
Snug in death's sleep as sharks are in the wave.
Men's testaments and tombs spell queasiness,
The world's laments are not a boon I crave,
Sooner, while yet I live, let the crows press
My carrion blood from out my skull and nave.
O worms, black comrades without eyes or ears,
Behold, a dead man, glad and free, appears!
Lecher philosophers, spawn of decay,
Rummage remorseless through my crumbling head
To tell what torture may remain today
For this my soulless body which is dead.

Translated by Jacques LeClercq

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:12 min read

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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