Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Hey, When I'm Down...

And the last week has been pretty hellish...

... what do I do?

Ok - so last week I spent an awful long time in bed. What else? Read the Idiot. Read A Rebours again. What else? Oh, I remember, I invented a new thing to do when feeling shite: translate Baudelaire! And my French is truly abysmal:

La Destruction

Sans cesse à mes côtés s'agite le Démon;
Il nage autour de moi comme un air impalpable;
Je l'avale et le sens qui brûle mon poumon
Et l'emplit d'un désir éternel et coupable.

Parfois il prend, sachant mon grand amour de l'Art,
La forme de la plus séduisante des femmes,
Et, sous de spécieux prétextes de cafard,
Accoutume ma lèvre à des philtres infâmes.

II me conduit ainsi, loin du regard de Dieu,
Haletant et brisé de fatigue, au milieu
Des plaines de l'Ennui, profondes et désertes,

Et jette dans mes yeux pleins de confusion
Des vêtements souillés, des blessures ouvertes,
Et l'appareil sanglant de la Destruction!

— Charles Baudelaire

(Translated, first into 'english', then into English as I saw fit, so call it a 'free' translation.)

Ceaselessly beside me, the Demon stirs;
He swims around me like an unfelt breath;
Inhaling, the sense that sears my lungs
Brims me with longings base and endless.

He sometimes, conscious of my love of Art,
Takes the shape of the most seductive women,
And under specious pretexts of hypocrisy,
Habituates my lips to sordid potions.

He steers me thusly, far from God's sight, gasping
And shattered with fatigue, into the midst
Of wastes of listlessness, estranged and sighing,

And casts before my agitated eyes
The soiled clothes, and open gaping wounds,
And all the bloody dressings of Destruction.

Criticism from Baudelaire experts and fluent francophones duly invited.


P.S. Apropos of nothing: the one thing to do is to hang on to what is human, to hang on to the humane in you.



Marian said...

Your French can't be abysmal. or maybe it's your sense for rhythm that's just awesome. Or maybe both. :)

Abysmal Musings said...

Merci beaucoup!