Monday, 28 May 2012

                                                               Image from

L’Homme et la Mer*

  Man and the Sea

 Charles Baudelaire was an innovative French poet, his poems striking new ground in poetry because of his portrayal of amazing imagery, and tackling of complicated and hereto taboo subjects. Charles Baudelaire was described by his fellow poet, Arthur Rimbaud as the ‘King of Poets’, an immense tribute to Baudelaire who struggled to be recognised in his own lifetime, and also struggled against drugs, alcohol and poverty.

Baudelaire rose above these problems, however, to write some of the most innovative and beautiful poems in the French language, which left a lasting legacy to the world, and a lasting impression on his fellow poets. One of his greatest poems is this poem about man and the sea, an extremely difficult poem to translate because of the sophistication of the words that Baudelaire uses. Not even many French dictionaries could explain some of the meanings of some of the words he uses in this exceptional poem. Magnifique!

                                 L'Homme et la Mer

Homme libre, toujours tu chérchiras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.

Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.

Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes,
O mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!

Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
O lutteurs éternels, o frères implacables!

(Les Fleurs du Mal, Spleen et Idéal)

Man and the Sea 

Free man, you will always search for the sea!
The sea is your mirror, you contemplate your soul
In the infinite progression of its groundswell,
And your spirit is an abyss which is no less bitter.

You enjoy plunging within the breast of your own image;
You embrace your eyes and your arms, and your heart
Sometimes is distracted from its own journey
By the noise of this invincible and savage conflict.

You are both mysterious and discreet;
Man, no one has probed the depths of your abyss,
O Sea, no one knows your intimate riches,
You are so jealous in keeping your secrets!

Nevertheless during innumerable centuries
You have fought with neither pity nor remorse
You love so much carnage and death,
O eternal fighters, O implacable brothers!

*Please note that all translations may neither convey the exact meaning nor the beauty of the words in the original language, and there may be some unintentional errors in translation.

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