Tag Archives: Charles Baudelaire

“The Head Of Hair,” by Charles Baudelaire

O fleece, billowing down to the shoulders!
O curls! O perfume charged with languor!
Ecstasy! To populate love’s dark alcove,
With memories sleeping tonight in your hair,
I’d wave it, like a handkerchief, in the air!

Languid Asia and burning Africa,
absent worlds, far-off, almost dead,
live in your forest-depths of aromas!
As music floats other spirits away,
mine, my love, sails your fragrance instead.

I’ll go where, full of sap, trees and men
Swoon endlessly in that ardent climate:
Thick tresses, be my tide! You contain,
O sea of ebony, the dazzling dream,
of masts, flames, sails, and oarsmen:

an echoing port where my soul’s a drinker
of sound, colour, scent in rolling waves:
where vessels, gliding through silk and amber,
open wide their arms to clasp the splendour
of a pure sky quivering with eternal day.

I’ll plunge my head, in love with drunkenness,
in this dark ocean which encloses the other:
and my subtle spirit the breakers caress
will know how to find you, fertile indolence!
Infinite lullaby, full of the balm of leisure!

Hair of blue, that hangs like a shadowy tent,
you bring me the round, immense sky’s azure:
in your plaited tresses’ feathery descent
I grow fervently drunk with the mingled scent
of coconut-oil, of musk, and coal-tar.

Now! Always! My hand in your heavy mane sowing
jewels, the sapphire, the pearl, and the ruby,
so that you’ll not remain deaf to my longing!
Oasis of dream, the gourd where I’m drinking,
of you, long draughts of the wine of memory?


“Spleen,” by Charles Baudelaire

I have more memories than if I’d lived a thousand years.

A heavy chest of drawers cluttered with balance-sheets,
Processes, love-letters, verses, ballads,
And heavy locks of hair enveloped in receipts,
Hides fewer secrets than my gloomy brain.
It is a pyramid, a vast burial vault
Which contains more corpses than potter’s field.
— I am a cemetery abhorred by the moon,
In which long worms crawl like remorse
And constantly harass my dearest dead.
I am an old boudoir full of withered roses,
Where lies a whole litter of old-fashioned dresses,
Where the plaintive pastels and the pale Bouchers,
Alone, breathe in the fragrance from an opened phial.

Nothing is so long as those limping days,
When under the heavy flakes of snowy years
Ennui, the fruit of dismal apathy,
Becomes as large as immortality.
— Henceforth you are no more, O living matter!
Than a block of granite surrounded by vague terrors,
Dozing in the depths of a hazy Sahara
An old sphinx ignored by a heedless world,
Omitted from the map, whose savage nature
Sings only in the rays of a setting sun.


“My arms are weary because I have embraced the clouds.”

“The Complaints of an Icarus”

The lovers of prostitutes
Are happy, healthy, and sated;
As for me, my arms are weary
Because I have embraced the clouds.

It is thanks to the peerless stars
That flame in the depth of the sky
That my burned out eyes see
Only the memories of suns.

I tried in vain to find
The middle and the end of space;
I know not under what fiery eye
I feel my pinions breaking;

Burned by love of the beautiful
I shan’t have the sublime honor
Of giving my name to the abyss
That will serve me as a tomb.

— Charles Baudelaire


Portrait of Charles Baudelaire by Étienne Carjat, circa 1863