(Article/content is below...)

The Voice by Charles Baudelaire (La Voix)


This poem is about how to live and succeed in life. Baudelaire uses many types of metaphors to get his point across. An example of this is "Earth's a cake". By this, he means there are many positives to take from the world.

"The Voice" was written with alternating rhymes. Sadly, the translation doesn't hold true to the structure. Nonetheless, the meaning stands the same and still brings out great emotion while reading it.

Baudelaire makes an excellent point with this writing. He doesn't only tell us that life is full of things that bring happiness, but that happiness surrounds us. Also, that sometimes being a fool has its positives. Fools are considered ignorant people who don't know how to react towards something or know about something. However, sometimes being this type of fool allows them to take pleasure where normal people wouldn't.


The Voice

My cot was next to the library, a Babel
Where fiction jostled science, myth and fable.
Greek dust with Roman ash there met the sight.
And I was but a folio in height
When two Voices addressed me. "Earth's a cake,"
Said one, "and full of sweetness. I can make
Your appetite to its proportions equal
Forever and forever without sequel."
Another said "Come, rove in dreams, with me,
Past knowledge, thought or possibility."
That voice sang like the wind along the shore
And, though caressing, frightened me the more.
I answered "O sweet Voice!" and from that date
Could never name my sorrow or my fate.
Behind the giant scenery of this life
I see strange worlds: with my own self at strife,
Ecstatic victim of my second sight,
I trail huge snakes, that at my ankles bite.
And like an ancient prophet, from that time,
I've loved the desert, found the sea sublime;
I've wept at festivals and laughed at wakes:
And found in sourest wines a sweet that slakes;
Falsehoods for facts I love to swallow whole,
And often fall, star-gazing, in a hole.
But the Voice cheers — "Keep dreaming. It's a rule
No sage can dream such beauty as a fool."

Published in .

Translation by Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)


La Voix

Mon berceau s'adossait à la bibliothèque,
Babel sombre, où roman, science, fabliau,
Tout, la cendre latine et la poussière grecque,
Se mêlaient. J'était haut comme un in-folio.
Deux voix me parlaient. L'une, insidieuse et ferme,
Disait: "La Terre est un gâteau plein de douceur;
Je puis (et ton plaisir serait alors sans terme!)
Te faire un appétit d'une égale grosseur."
Et l'autre: "Viens! oh! viens voyager dans les rêves,
Au delà du possible, au delà du connu!"
Et celle-là chantait comme le vent des grèves,
Fantôme vagissant, on ne sait d'où venu,
Qui caresse l'oreille et cependant l'effraie.
Je te répondis: "Oui! douce voix!" C'est d'alors
Que date ce qu'on peut, hélas! nommer ma plaie
Et ma fatalité. Derrière les décors
De l'existence immense, au plus noir de l'abîme,
Je vois distinctement des mondes singuliers,
Et, de ma clairvoyance extatique victime,
Je traîne des serpents qui mordent mes souliers.
Et c'est depuis ce temps que, pareil aux prophètes,
J'aime si tendrement le désert et la mer;
Que je ris dans les deuils et pleure dans les fêtes,
Et trouve un goût suave au vin le plus amer;
Que je prends très souvent les faits pour des mensonges,
Et que, les yeux au ciel, je tombe dans des trous.
Mais la voix me console et dit: "Garde tes songes:
Les sages n'en ont pas d'aussi beaux que les fous!"

Poème de 

Publié en .

Next: To a Malabar Woman

Last update: