Spleen

By Charles Baudelaire (original at http://fleursdumal.org/poem/161 )

Translated by Christopher Mahan on April 28, 2017


When the oppressive lid of a heavy sky falls

On the mournful spirit weighed down by loneliness

Laid across horizon’s great circle

Pouring on us a day darker than night


When Earth is no more than a damp prison cell

And Hope is a blind bat

Fighting stone walls with tender wings

Banging its head on a putrid ceiling


When rain falls in thundering sheets

As slanted iron bars of a giant prison

A mute nation of brutal spiders

Lays webs to entrap in the depths of our minds


Bells suddenly jolt furiously

Shouting to Heaven their miserable cry

As lost and compromised souls

Openly air their disagreement


— Long funeral processions, in complete silence,

Slowly parade in my heart; Hope defeated whimpers,

Dreadful, merciless Depression,

Into my bent cranium buries its black pennant.

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