Monday, June 05, 2006


I came across this poem some time ago. I meant to post it, but I never did. Here it is in the French first, then in translation. I'm posting the French because the poem sounds better, has a more beautiful cadence, in French. The English translation also has a punchiness that I like, so it's worthwhile, too.

Charles Baudelaire

Il faut être toujours ivre.
Tout est là:
c'est l'unique question.
Pour ne pas sentir
l'horrible fardeau du Temps
qui brise vos épaules
et vous penche vers la terre,
il faut vous enivrer sans trêve.
Mais de quoi?
De vin, de poésie, ou de vertu, à votre guise.
Mais enivrez-vous.
Et si quelquefois,
sur les marches d'un palais,
sur l'herbe verte d'un fossé,
dans la solitude morne de votre chambre,
vous vous réveillez,
l'ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue,
demandez au vent,
à la vague,
à l'étoile,
à l'oiseau,
à l'horloge,
à tout ce qui fuit,
à tout ce qui gémit,
à tout ce qui roule,
à tout ce qui chante,
à tout ce qui parle,
demandez quelle heure il est;
et le vent,
la vague,
vous répondront:
"Il est l'heure de s'enivrer!
Pour n'être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps,
enivrez-vous sans cesse!
De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise."

Get Drunk

Always be drunk.
That's it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time's horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness
of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
"Time to get drunk!
Don't be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"


PaxRomano said...

Wow, I love that poem!

Virginia Gal said...

Hee hee, here I'm reading it in French (which I don't know) and thinking its this deep poem about anguished lovers, or something similar. Isn't it funny what our minds come up with when we don't know about something?

MissMagnoliaThunderpussy said...

Just don't do it at the Villa Romano, you can taste the ring from the bathtub on the gin.

The "Noble Experiment" is such a load of clams, at least when Roosevelt gets in he'll repeal the 18th amendment and we can put this nonsense behind us and get on with our lives.

Merci said...

I do, too. I keep it nearby at work.

Yes, a foreign (to us) language can add mystery and allure to even simple statements.

Miss Magnolia-
I dunno, the gin was flowing pretty freely at the Villa a few weeks back, with no complaints from those who imbibed ;)

Happy days are here again...

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