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Old 08-17-2018, 10:28 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Baudelaire's "Post-Mortem Remorse"

Post-Mortem Remorse

When you have gone to sleep, my swarthy sweet,
in the dark stone of your memorial
and come to own as bedroom and estate
only a leaky vault and funeral hole,

when, by squeezing tight your panting breast
and lithe, sloth-graceful haunches, slabs annul
your heartbeats and decisions and arrest
feet prone to go out looking for a thrill,

the tomb, intimate with my infinite
reveries during long nights without sleep
(tombs understand the poet's mind, of course),

will say, “Flawed courtesan, what good was it—
your ignorance of what the dead ones weep?”
And worms will gnaw your carcass like remorse.

. . . .

L1-4 were
When you have gone to sleep, my dusky stunner,
in the dark stone of your memorial
and come to own as bed, bedroom and manor
only a leaky vault and funeral hole,

L6: was "these haunches so resilient, so blase"

L5-8 were
when slabs press in on you—your panting breast,
your hips so lissome now with apathy—,
and halt your heart and longings and arrest
the feet that went their own adventurous way,


Sestet was
the tomb, because the poet’s mind is plain
to tombs, will understand my infinite
reveries during long nights without sleep

and say, “Flawed courtesan, what good was it—
your ignorance of what the dead ones weep?”
And maggots like remorse will gnaw your skin.

L10-11: were
the infinite
dreams I have had on long nights without sleep
L13 "what" for "why"
L14 was "And like remorse maggots will gnaw your skin."

. . . .

Remords posthume

Lorsque tu dormiras, ma belle ténébreuse,
Au fond d'un monument construit en marbre noir,
Et lorsque tu n'auras pour alcôve et manoir
Qu'un caveau pluvieux et qu'une fosse creuse;

Quand la pierre, opprimant ta poitrine peureuse
Et tes flancs qu'assouplit un charmant nonchaloir,
Empêchera ton coeur de battre et de vouloir,
Et tes pieds de courir leur course aventureuse,

Le tombeau, confident de mon rêve infini
(Car le tombeau toujours comprendra le poète),
Durant ces grandes nuits d'où le somme est banni,

Te dira: «Que vous sert, courtisane imparfaite,
De n'avoir pas connu ce que pleurent les morts?»
— Et le ver rongera ta peau comme un remords.

— Charles Baudelaire

. . . .

Posthumous Remorse

When you will sleep, O dusky beauty mine,
Beneath a monument fashioned of black marble,
When you will have for bedroom and mansion
Only a rain-swept vault and a hollow grave,

When the slab of stone, oppressing your frightened breast
And your flanks now supple with charming nonchalance,
Will keep your heart from beating, from wishing,
And your feet from running their adventurous course,

The tomb, confidant of my infinite dreams
(For the tomb will always understand the poet)
Through those long nights from which all sleep is banned,

will say: "What does it profit you, imperfect courtesan,
Not to have known why the dead weep?"
— And like remorse the worm will gnaw your skin.

— William Aggeler

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-18-2018 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 08-18-2018, 01:20 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

A great Baudelaire number, not least for the last line. There's a little Horace in there, and a little Ronsard, but all through his prism. I like your version a good deal - I think you've basically got it - but do have a couple of thoughts.
How about black for dark stone? Marbre noir.
Nonchaloir, indifference, literally means "without heat." I like blase, but maybe you could also do something with the double meaning? Resilient is a lot of syllables.
I'd consider what for why the dead ones weep: ce que pleurent les morts.
And in the last line, I'm afraid I prefer the Eggeler for its rhythm. OTOH, I would love for the poem to end like Baudelaire with remorse; maybe corse, or of course? Anyway, that line is really tough. Obviously the French is very beautiful, if that's the word. I think it needs to crack like a rifle shot.

Cheers,
John

Update: your title is unexpected and I think Baudelaire might have gone with it. :-)
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:12 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you very much. French translation has been fun for me now and again lately, primarily because I am not an expert in the language. I just sort of fumble around. Yes, "what" for "why" in the penultimate line.

Also to charge up the last line I will try inverting "like remorse" and "maggots".

I scan "resilient" as three syllable (with the second "i" as a "y").

Best,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-18-2018 at 04:16 AM.
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:32 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

For nonchaloir, how about something like "cold-blooded"?
I like what you've got here. "Courtisane imparfaite" - what a great line! He's also got a bit of Marvell in mind I think - "The worm will try / That long-preserved virginity."
Baudelaire! Sainte-Beuve said he'd erected his hut in his own Kamchatka litteraire.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:36 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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John, I have fixed the sestet.

I'll see what I can do about the haunches tomorrow morning.
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:41 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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"these hips so yielding now with apathy"
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Old 08-18-2018, 04:45 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

"And worms will gnaw your carcass like remorse."
Yes yes yes! That is Baudelaire's Parthian shot. Lovely.
I think Baudelaire would have been happy with "of course", it's what he means after all. And you've got "Te dira" now, which he put such weight on. Good to have that back.
I like it! And I think Baudelaire would have liked it as well. He does after all have "Une Charogne," a poem about a carcass, with the stunning lines

Et ce monde rendait une etrange musique
Comme l'eau courante et le vent
Ou le grain qu'un vanneur d'un mouvement rythmique
Agite et tourne dans son van.


Cheers,
John

Update: sorry, it's hard for me not to sound donnish about Baudelaire. My thesis director did his doctorate on Baudelaire and it rubbed off on me. But he is fantastic. My only attempted Baudelaire translation was crap, so hats off!
Update II: apathy! Very nice! Far better than cold-blooded. It's as discreet as Baudelaire's rather dark joke. Oh, I think the review of heart and feet is an echo of the text for Extreme Unction, as oil is applied: "Per istam sanctam Unctiónem + et suam piisimam misericórdiam, indúlgeat tibi Dóminus quidquid per (visum, audtiotum, odorátum, gustum et locutiónem, tactum, gressum deliquisti.)"

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-18-2018 at 05:04 AM. Reason: me pontificating
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Old 08-18-2018, 09:54 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, John. It is so reassuring for me to have a Baudelaire scholar helping me out. I have caught your enthusiasm and its has only increased mine.

Best,

Aaron
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:17 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Aaron,

I love Baudelaire and enjoyed your translation of "L'Ennemi." I wanted to comment on it, but it was leading up to a wedding I was continually postponing writing a speech for. Enough about my last week.

I like all your revision in the second half, and most of this works for me.

Except: "dusky stunner."

"stunner" from "belle" strikes me as off register and so rhyme-driven.

Dusky seems too light to capture "ténébreuse." I know that "dusky" has the nice associations with night, and so gets the shadows in "tenebrae" --> "ténébreux," but it just doesn't seem to fit with the Baudelairean feel of the rest. It's novelty of a word drives out the associations you want: melancholy/mysterious. Those strike me as more important, and dusky doesn't bring them out well.

I've been playing around with a fix: lover for stunner can work (though I don't love it) but I can't seem to get the extra foot needed from the first part (which, I think, you translated as well as it can be).

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 08-18-2018 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 08-18-2018, 10:19 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Well, I'm just going to assume you're not being sarcastic! Thank you for the good word - always glad to be of service. It's true, I have spent a fair bit of time with Baudelaire, which does make me pontificate a bit. But he is great, it's hard to get around that. I'm glad you're having fun with him!

Cheers,
John

Update: cross-posted with Andrew, who raises an interesting point about tenebreuse. In Les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire does have his cycle de la Venus noire, addressed to a woman of color (Jeanne Duval), but Baudelaire to my mind is also riffing on the shadowy tomb she will now be inhabiting. So something other than "dusky" might be nice.

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-18-2018 at 10:23 AM.
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