Baudelaire: The Enemy (From French)

The Enemy
By Charles Baudelaire
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click here to hear me reciting the French

My youth was but a dark-aired hurricane,
Pierced by an eye of sun from time to time;
So ravaged was my world by bolts and rain
That in my garden few red fruits still climb.

Now at the autumn of the mind I stand,
And here I am to toil with rake and spade

If I am to renew this flooded land
Of grave-sized holes the burrowing rains have made.

And who knows if my dream-grown flowers shall reach
Beneath this soil now scrubbed into a beach
And taste the mystic foods that heal their parts?

Ache! Ache in me! What lifetimes Time devours!
And the dark Enemy that gnaws our hearts
Strengthens his blood by draining us of ours.


The Original:

L'Ennemi

Ma jeunesse ne fut qu'un ténébreux orage,
Traversé çà et là par de brillants soleils;
Le tonnerre et la pluie ont fait un tel ravage,

Qu'il reste en mon jardin bien peu de fruits vermeils.

Voilà que j'ai touché l'automne des idées,
Et qu'il faut employer la pelle et les râteaux

Pour rassembler à neuf les terres inondées,

Où l'eau creuse des trous grands comme des tombeaux.

Et qui sait si les fleurs nouvelles que je rêve

Trouveront dans ce sol lavé comme une grève

Le mystique aliment qui ferait leur vigueur?

— Ô douleur! ô douleur! Le Temps mange la vie,

Et l'obscur Ennemi qui nous ronge le coeur
Du sang que nous perdons croît et se fortifie!

1 comment:

  1. All your renditions of French poems are excellent!  One note though: at the beginning of the third stanza, shouldn't the linking word be WHERE, rather than OF?  "If I am to renew this flooded land/OF grave-sized holes the burrowing rains have made" does not seem to sound very logical.  Or did you mean "to RELIEVE this flooded land/OF bla-bla-bla".  That might be another solution! 

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