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Recorded by David Yezzi for Poem-a-Day, May 12, 2017.
About this Poem 

“In ‘Recueillement’ (‘Meditation’), Baudelaire tries to soothe his sadness by speaking to it like a lover. They go on a nighttime walk together. Many of us know, I think, exactly what it feels like to be in love with our own sadness and to have it transform everything around us."
—David Yezzi

Meditation

Take it easy, Sadness. Settle down.
You asked for evening. Now, it’s come. It’s here.
A choking fog has blanketed the town,
infecting some with calm, the rest with fear.

While the squalid throng of mortals feels the sting
of heartless pleasure swinging its barbed knout
and finds remorse in slavish partying,
take my hand, Sorrow. I will lead you out,

away from them. Look as the dead years lurch,
in tattered clothes, from heaven’s balconies.
From the depths, regret emerges with a grin.

The spent sun passes out beneath an arch,
and, shroudlike, stretched from the antipodes,
—hear it, O hear, love!—soft night marches in.

*

Recueillement


Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.
Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici:
Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville,
Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci.

Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile,
Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci,
Va cueillir des remords dans la fête servile,
Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici,

Loin d'eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années,
Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées;
Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant;

Le soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche,
Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient,
Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.

This poem is in the public domain. Translation copyright © 2017 by David Yezzi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

This poem is in the public domain. Translation copyright © 2017 by David Yezzi. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Charles Baudelaire

Charles Baudelaire

The son of Joseph-Francois Baudelaire and Caroline Archimbaut Dufays, Charles Baudelaire was born in Paris in 1821.

by this poet

poem

(I)

February, peeved at Paris, pours 
a gloomy torrent on the pale lessees 
of the graveyard next door and a mortal chill
on tenants of the foggy suburbs too.

The tiles afford no comfort to my cat 
that cannot keep its mangy body still; 
the soul of some old poet haunts the drains 
and howls as if a
poem
A fountain's pulsing sobs—like this my blood
Measures its flowing, so it sometimes seems.
I hear a gentle murmur as it streams;
Where the wound lies I've never understood.

Like water meadows, boulevards are flooded.
Cobblestones, crisscrossed by scarlet rills,
Are islands; creatures come and drink their fill.
poem
Free as a bird and joyfully my heart
Soared up among the rigging, in and out;
Under a cloudless sky the ship rolled on
Like an angel drunk with brilliant sun.

"That dark, grim island there—which would that be?"
"Cythera," we're told, "the legendary isle
Old bachelors tell stories of and smile.
There's really