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Old 09-13-2018, 07:38 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Baudelaire's "The Foreign Scent"

The Elsewhere Scent

When, on a hot fall evening, I breathe in
(eyes closed) the fragrance of your sultry breast,
I see extensive Beaches of the Blest
shine in the fires of an unchanging sun,

and nature grants this Isle of Indolence
fruit ripe to bursting, trees that are unique,
men with a lean and vigorous physique,
and girls whose eyes flash very innocence.

Urged by your smell to these attractive parts,
I see a port with ships whose sails and yards
are weary from their labors in the rollers.

A green tamarind fragrance in the air
expands my nose and, floating here and there,
mingles, in my soul, with songs of sailors.

. . . . .

Title was "The Foreign Scent"
L3 was "a spreading Shoreline of"
L4: "unchanging" for "abiding"
L13: "distends" for "expands"
L14 was "seems married to the chanteys of the sailors."
. . . . .

Parfum exotique

Quand, les deux yeux fermés, en un soir chaud d'automne,
Je respire l'odeur de ton sein chaleureux,
Je vois se dérouler des rivages heureux
Qu'éblouissent les feux d'un soleil monotone;

Une île paresseuse où la nature donne
Des arbres singuliers et des fruits savoureux;
Des hommes dont le corps est mince et vigoureux,
Et des femmes dont l'oeil par sa franchise étonne.

Guidé par ton odeur vers de charmants climats,
Je vois un port rempli de voiles et de mâts
Encor tout fatigués par la vague marine,

Pendant que le parfum des verts tamariniers,
Qui circule dans l'air et m'enfle la narine,
Se mêle dans mon âme au chant des mariniers.

— Charles Baudelaire
. . . . .


Exotic Perfume

When, with both my eyes closed, on a hot autumn night,
I inhale the fragrance of your warm breast
I see happy shores spread out before me,
On which shines a dazzling and monotonous sun;

A lazy isle to which nature has given
Singular trees, savory fruits,
Men with bodies vigorous and slender,
And women in whose eyes shines a startling candor.

Guided by your fragrance to these charming countries,
I see a port filled with sails and rigging
Still utterly wearied by the waves of the sea,

While the perfume of the green tamarinds,
That permeates the air, and elates my nostrils,
Is mingled in my soul with the sailors' chanteys.

— William Aggeler

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 09-17-2018 at 11:07 PM.
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:41 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,683

Aaron, my own preference is for sticking closer to the original, so I think you miss some nuances in some spots and depart further in others. "Foreign" in the title does not capture to my mind the overtones of "exotic." In L1 the names of seasons are not typically capitalized in American English, and your other capitalizations make the places you mention sound like place names, rather than the descriptions that Baudelaire uses. Your biggest departure, I'd say, is in L8. Baudelaire is talking about stunning frankness, which seems the opposite of "every innocence." For me the stresses of L12 seemed awkwardly bunched. In L13 "expands my nose" creates a humorous picture in my mind that I don't think is what you intended.

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Old 09-14-2018, 10:48 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,989

I'm also wondering about "abiding" in L4. Why not "monotonous?"
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Old 09-14-2018, 12:22 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Location: NY, USA
Posts: 4,175

over all, I like this a great deal, but agree with many of the points that Susan makes. I do like, for example, that you stuck with "evening" where Aggeler had "night"; it is both more accurate and makes more sense.

I think your title change is unwarranted; I wouldn't capitalize "Fall", "Shoreline of the Blest", and "Isle of Indolence"--it just seems counter to Baudelaire. I think monotone might not be meant as monotonous, but more monochromatic; fires of a monotone sun are a striking image for the sunset, suggesting a merciless cloudless sky above a windless sea.

I also agree that frankness, openness, or candor are very different from innocence.

I also find "expands my nose" unfortunate. I also think that your last line is too far from

mixes in my soul with the songs of sailors

why "seems"? "marries" is not "mixes", and "chanteys" to me is less interesting than "songs" when you explicitly say "of sailors".

Thank you for the read, and I hope that these comments are not too negative.

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Old 09-17-2018, 03:36 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, all, for commenting.

I have revised the title from “The Foreign Scent” to “The Elsewhere Scent.”

I think it better to find some more original way than the obvious of reproducing the title.

I have also revised “abiding” to “unchanging” in line 4.

I have also revised the last line to “mingles in my mind with songs of sailors.”

I feel confident in “Shoreline of the Blest” because the French is the way the Ancient Greek “Isles of the Blest” appear in that language, and I am also happy with “Isle of Indolence” in terms of its sense and tone.

I see the girls on the imagined island having the candor of innocence--they would be easier to take advantage of that way.

I had the absurdity of "expands my nose" in mind. It's a risk the translation takes, and I'm all in. The line makes me think of Catullus' "cenabis" poem in which he becomes "all nose"--an absurd, grotesque and perfect image.

Thanks again for your suggestions.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 09-17-2018 at 03:45 PM.
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