Charles Baudelaire
from "Flowers of Evil"
translated by Keith Waldrop









French text


Along the old outskirts of town, where Venetian blinds in hovels
hide secret lecheries, when the cruel sun strikes with redoubled
ray town and country, rooftop and wheatfield, I go to practice by
myself my whimsical swordsmanship, sniffing at any corner for
chance rhymes, tripping over words like curbs, bumping sometimes
into lines long sought in dreams.

This foster father, enemy of greensickness, makes verse spring
like roses from the fields; makes care evaporate into air; fills brain
and hive with honey. He it is who rejuvenates cripples on their
crutches, turns them merry and mild as girls and commands the
harvest to increase and ripen, within the immortal spirit willing
always to flower.

When, like a poet, he shines down into town, he ennobles the
vilest things, and enters as king, without hoopla, without flunky,
each hospital, each palace.