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L'Horloge (The Clock)

Charles Baudelaire 1821 (Paris) – 1867 (Paris)



Horloge! dieu sinistre, effrayant, impassible,
Dont le doigt nous menace et nous dit: «Souviens-toi!
Les vibrantes Douleurs dans ton coeur plein d'effroi
Se planteront bientôt comme dans une cible;

Le Plaisir vaporeux fuira vers l'horizon
Ainsi qu'une sylphide au fond de la coulisse;
Chaque instant te dévore un morceau du délice
À chaque homme accordé pour toute sa saison.

Trois mille six cents fois par heure, la Seconde
Chuchote: Souviens-toi! — Rapide, avec sa voix
D'insecte, Maintenant dit: Je suis Autrefois,
Et j'ai pompé ta vie avec ma trompe immonde!

Remember! Souviens-toi! prodigue! Esto memor!
(Mon gosier de métal parle toutes les langues.)
Les minutes, mortel folâtre, sont des gangues
Qu'il ne faut pas lâcher sans en extraire l'or!

Souviens-toi que le Temps est un joueur avide
Qui gagne sans tricher, à tout coup! c'est la loi.
Le jour décroît; la nuit augmente; Souviens-toi!
Le gouffre a toujours soif; la clepsydre se vide.

Tantôt sonnera l'heure où le divin Hasard,
Où l'auguste Vertu, ton épouse encor vierge,
Où le Repentir même (oh! la dernière auberge!),
Où tout te dira Meurs, vieux lâche! il est trop tard!»

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

The Clock

Impassive clock! Terrifying, sinister god,
Whose finger threatens us and says: 'Remember!
The quivering Sorrows will soon be shot
Into your fearful heart, as into a target;

Nebulous pleasure will flee toward the horizon
Like an actress who disappears into the wings;
Every instant devours a piece of the pleasure
Granted to every man for his entire season.

Three thousand six hundred times an hour, Second
Whispers: Remember! — Immediately
With his insect voice, Now says: I am the Past
And I have sucked out your life with my filthy trunk!

Remember! Souviens-toi, spendthrift! Esto memor!
(My metal throat can speak all languages.)
Minutes, blithesome mortal, are bits of ore
That you must not release without extracting the gold!

Remember, Time is a greedy player
Who wins without cheating, every round! It's the law.
The daylight wanes; the night deepens; remember!
The abyss thirsts always; the water-clock runs low.

Soon will sound the hour when divine Chance,
When august Virtue, your still virgin wife,
When even Repentance (the very last of inns!),
When all will say: Die, old coward! it is too late!'

Translated by William Aggeler

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

The Clock

The Clock, calm evil god, that makes us shiver,
With threatening finger warns us each apart:
'Remember! Soon the vibrant woes will quiver,
Like arrows in a target, in your heart.

To the horizon Pleasure will take flight
As flits a vaporous sylphide to the wings.
Each instant gnaws a crumb of the delight
That for his season every mortal brings.

Three thousand times and more, each hour, the second
Whispers 'Remember!' Like an insect shrill
The present chirps, 'With Nevermore I'm reckoned,
I've pumped your lifeblood with my loathsome bill.'

Remember! Souviens-toi I Esto Memor!
My brazen windpipe speaks in every tongue.
Each moment, foolish mortal, is like ore
From which the precious metal must be wrung.

Remember. Time the gamester (it's the law)
Wins always, without cheating. Daylight wanes.
Night deepens. The abyss with gulfy maw
Thirsts on unsated, while the hour-glass drains.

Sooner or later, now, the time must be
When Hazard, Virtue (your still-virgin mate),
Repentance, (your last refuge), or all three
Will tell you, 'Die, old Coward. It's too late!''

Translated by Roy Campbell

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

The Clock

Terrible Clock! God without mercy; mighty Power!
Saying all day, 'Remember! Remember and beware:
There is no arrow of pain but in a tiny hour
Will make thy heart its target, and stick and vibrate there.

'Toward the horizon all too soon and out of sight
Vaporous Pleasure, like a sylphide, floats away;
Each instant swallows up one crumb of that delight
Accorded to each man for all his mortal day.'

The Second says, three thousand six hundred times an hour,
'Remember! Look, the wingèd insect Now doth sit
Upon thy vein, and shrilleth, 'I am Nevermore,
And I have sucked thy blood; I am flying away with it!'

'Remember! Souviens-toi! Esto memor! — no tongue
My metal larynx does not speak — O frivolous man,
These minutes, rich in gold, slide past; thou art not young;
Remember! and wash well the gravel in the pan!

'Remember! Time, the player that need not cheat to win,
Makes a strong adversary. Is thy g
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:45 min read
285

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABCA DEEX BEEB CEEC BABB BFFB BCBB DECD BABX CECB CACA EXEB C CBCB BEBE BABA CGCG AEXE HBCB A CCCC BXBB CBCB GIGI XH
Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 4,501
Words 741
Stanzas 25
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 4, 4, 4, 2

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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    "L'Horloge (The Clock)" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 5 Feb. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/4979/l%27horloge-%28the-clock%29>.

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