One must have courage as strong
As Sisyphus', lifting this weight!
Though the heart for the work may be great,
Time is fleeting, and Art is so long!
Far from the tombs of the brave
Toward a churchyard obscure and apart,
Like a muffled drum, my heart
Beats a funeral march to the grave.
- But sleeping lies many a gem
In dark, unfathomed caves,
Far from the probes of men;
And many a flower waves
And wastes its sweet perfumes
In desert solitudes.
Přeložil James McGowan
|Ill Fortune: in French, 'Guignon'. Writing of the American poet Edgar Allan Poe, many of whose prose works he translated, Baudelaire commented that in the literature of every country there are men who carry the word 'guignon' written in mysterious characters on their foreheads. |
Sisyphus: for the crime of (temporarily) outwitting Death, Sisyphus was condemned in Erebus (the Hell of Greek mythology) endlessly to push a huge rock up a hill: just when it should topple over the summit, it instead rolls backwards, and Sisyphus has to start all over again.
Time ... so long: the axiom, 'art is long and time is fleeting', has been a commonplace since ancient times: Baudelaire said he first found it in Hippocrates (Greek physician ?46o-?377 BC). Later it was expressed in an American poem, Longfellow's 'Psalm of Life': 'Art is long and time is fleeting, I And our hearts, though stout and brave, I Still, like muilled drums, are beating I Funeral marches to the grave.' This passage is the basis for 11. 4-8 of Baudelaire's poem. Lines 9- 14 are based on a passage from another poem in English, Thomas Gray's 'Elegy Writt~n in a Country Churchyard': 'Full many a gem of purest ray serene I The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear; I Full many a flower is born to blush unseen I And waste its sweetness on the desert air.'