Treasure Island

Charles Baudelaire

(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

A Une Madone (To A Madonna)


Ex-voto dans le goût espagnol


Je veux bâtir pour toi, Madone, ma maîtresse,
Un autel souterrain au fond de ma détresse,
Et creuser dans le coin le plus noir de mon coeur,
Loin du désir mondain et du regard moqueur,
Une niche, d'azur et d'or tout émaillée,
Où tu te dresseras, Statue émerveillée.
Avec mes Vers polis, treillis d'un pur métal
Savamment constellé de rimes de cristal
Je ferai pour ta tête une énorme Couronne;
Et dans ma Jalousie, ô mortelle Madone
Je saurai te tailler un Manteau, de façon
Barbare, roide et lourd, et doublé de soupçon,
Qui, comme une guérite, enfermera tes charmes,
Non de Perles brodé, mais de toutes mes Larmes!
Ta Robe, ce sera mon Désir, frémissant,
Onduleux, mon Désir qui monte et qui descend,
Aux pointes se balance, aux vallons se repose,
Et revêt d'un baiser tout ton corps blanc et rose.
Je te ferai de mon Respect de beaux Souliers
De satin, par tes pieds divins humiliés,
Qui, les emprisonnant dans une molle étreinte
Comme un moule fidèle en garderont l'empreinte.
Si je ne puis, malgré tout mon art diligent
Pour Marchepied tailler une Lune d'argent
Je mettrai le Serpent qui me mord les entrailles
Sous tes talons, afin que tu foules et railles
Reine victorieuse et féconde en rachats
Ce monstre tout gonflé de haine et de crachats.
Tu verras mes Pensers, rangés comme les Cierges
Devant l'autel fleuri de la Reine des Vierges
Etoilant de reflets le plafond peint en bleu,
Te regarder toujours avec des yeux de feu;
Et comme tout en moi te chérit et t'admire,
Tout se fera Benjoin, Encens, Oliban, Myrrhe,
Et sans cesse vers toi, sommet blanc et neigeux,
En Vapeurs montera mon Esprit orageux.

Enfin, pour compléter ton rôle de Marie,
Et pour mêler l'amour avec la barbarie,
Volupté noire! des sept Péchés capitaux,
Bourreau plein de remords, je ferai sept Couteaux
Bien affilés, et comme un jongleur insensible,
Prenant le plus profond de ton amour pour cible,
Je les planterai tous dans ton Coeur pantelant,
Dans ton Coeur sanglotant, dans ton Coeur ruisselant!

To a Madonna

Votive Offering in the Spanish Style

I want to build for you, Madonna, my mistress,
An underground altar in the depths of my grief
And carve out in the darkest corner of my heart,
Far from worldly desires and mocking looks,
A niche, all enameled with azure and with gold,
Where you shall stand, amazed Statue;
With my polished Verses as a trellis of pure metal
Studded cunningly with rhymes of crystal,
I shall make for your head an immense Crown,
And from my Jealousy, O mortal Madonna,
I shall know how to cut a cloak in a fashion,
Barbaric, heavy, and stiff, lined with suspicion,
Which, like a sentry-box, will enclose your charms;
Embroidered not with Pearls, but with all of my Tears!
Your Gown will be my Desire, quivering,
Undulant, my Desire which rises and which falls,
Balances on the crests, reposes in the troughs,
And clothes with a kiss your white and rose body.
Of my Self-respect I shall make you Slippers
Of satin which, humbled by your divine feet,
Will imprison them in a gentle embrace,
And assume their form like a faithful mold;


If I can't, in spite of all my painstaking art,
Carve a Moon of silver for your Pedestal,
I shall put the Serpent which is eating my heart
Under your heels, so that you may trample and mock,
Triumphant queen, fecund in redemptions,
That monster all swollen with hatred and spittle.
You will see my Thoughts like Candles in rows
Before the flower-decked altar of the Queen of Virgins,
Starring with their reflections the azure ceiling,
And watching you always with eyes of fire.
And since my whole being admires and loves you,
All will become Storax, Benzoin, Frankincense, Myrrh,
And ceaselessly toward you, white, snowy pinnacle,
My turbulent spirit will rise like a vapor.

Finally, to complete your role of Mary,
And to mix love with inhumanity,
Infamous pleasure! of the seven deadly sins,
I, torturer full of remorse, shall make seven
Well sharpened Daggers and, like a callous juggler,
Taking your deepest love for a target,
I shall plant them all in your panting Heart,
In your sobbing Heart, in your bleeding Heart!


— Translated by William Aggeler

To a Madonna


(Ex Voto in Spanish Style)

I'd build, Madonna, love, for my belief,
An altar in the dim crypt of my grief,
And in the darkest comer of my heart,
From mortal lust and mockery far apart,
Scoop you a niche, with gold and azure glaze,
Where you would stand in wonderment and gaze,
With my pure verses trellised, and all round
In constellated rhymes of crystal bound:
And with a huge tiara richly crowned.
Out of the Jealousy which rules my passion,
Mortal Madonna, I a cloak would fashion,
Barbarous, stiff, and heavy with my doubt,
Whereon as in a fourm you would fill out
And mould your lair. Of tears, not pearls, would be
The sparkle of its rich embroidery:
Your robe would be my lust, with waving flow,
Poising on tips, in valleys lying low,
And clothing, in one kiss, coral and snow.
In my Respect (for satin) you'll be shod
Which your white feet would humble to the clod,
While prisoning their flesh with tender hold
It kept their shape imprinted like a mould.
If for a footstool to support your shoon,
For all my art, I could not get the moon,
I'd throw the serpent, that devours my vitals
Under your trampling heels for his requitals,
Victorious queen, to spurn, bruise, and belittle
That monstrous worm blown-up with hate and spittle.
Round you my thoughts like candles should be seen
Around the flowered shrine of the virgins' Queen,
Reflected on a roof that's painted blue,
And aiming all their golden eyes at you.
Since nought is in me that you do not stir,
All will be incense, benjamin, and myrrh,
And up to you, white peak, in clouds will soar
My stormy soul, in rapture, to adore.

In fine, your role of Mary to perfect
And mingle barbarism with respect —
Of seven deadly sins, O black delight!
Remorseful torturer, to show my sleight,
I'll forge and sharpen seven deadly swords
And like a callous juggler on the boards,
Taking it for my target, I would dart
Them deep into your streaming, sobbing heart.


— Translated by Roy Campbell

À une Madone

I'll build for thee, Madonna, mistress mine,
deep in my crypt of woe a secret shrine;
— carve in the blackest corner of my heart,
from worldly lust and mocking eyes apart,
a niche, with gold and blue enamel blent,
to hold thy statue filled with wonderment.
my polished verse, of virgin metal hard
with crystal rhymes artistically starred,
shall raise for thee a towering diadem;
and from my jealousy I'll cut and hem
a mangle, mortal Lady mine, designed
as 'twere a sentry-box, stiff, heavy, lined
with barbs of keen suspicion and with fears,
embroidered, not with pearls, but all my tears!
to make thy robe I'll give thee my desire
that rises, falls and quivers like a fire,
clings to each summit, rests in each abyss,
and clothes thy rosy body with a kiss.
of my respect I'll make thee buskins fine
of satin, humbled by thy feet divine,
to prison them in soft embraces warm
and like a faithful mould to preserve their form.


then if my art is powerless to cut
thy pedestal, a silver moon, I'll put
beneath thy heel the serpent in my heart
for thee to bruise and mock, because thou art
the queen of my redemption, conquering all,
even that monster spewing hate and gall.
thine altar, like the Virgin's, shall be twined
with flowers, and like tapers all aligned,
my thoughts shall light the niche: from those blue skies,
watching thee always with their fiery eyes;
and since thou holdest all the love within
my heart, as incense, myrrh and benjamin,
in clouds forevermore to thee, its goal,
o snowy peak, shall rise my stormy soul.


and last, to make thee Mary utterly,
commingling love with savage cruelty,
— black joy! — with all the seven capital sins
I'll forge, remorsefully, seven javelins
knife-sharp, and like a juggler nonchalant,
taking thy love as target, I shall plant
deep in thy heart convulsed each deadly dart
— thy panting heart, thy sobbing, streaming heart!


— Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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