Reverie in Blue

An Anterior Life
(From the French of Charles Baudelaire)

For long I lived within vast vaulted halls
which ocean suns lit with a thousand flames,
and in which great pillars, majestic, straight and tall
were changed at eventide into basaltic caves.

Sea-surges swept reflections of the skies
to combine them in a grave, mysterious way;
in an all-embracing consonance rich music played
while sunset hues were imaged in my eyes.

It was there I lived, in that voluptuous calm,
at the centre of a blue and splendid haze;
and naked slaves replete with sweetest scents

refreshed my brow with the fronded leaves of palms –
their one and only task to deeply delve
the secret grief that languished in my self.

From ‘Journeys in Time’

6 thoughts on “Reverie in Blue

    1. Thank you, Viv! I must say I enjoyed doing this one, and deliberated over it a long time to get it right. And, yep, I was quite pleased with the way it turned out. Very happy that you liked it. 🙂

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  1. I was transported into an earthly paradise by way of your rich and sensuous descriptions Dafydd.
    However the poem is a very blue reverie indeed, as all that splendour and luxurious living could not it seems alleviate the poets innermost sadness.
    A very French state of mind beautifully translated. Diolch am rannu.

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    1. Thank you, Gill! Rich and sensuous … that’s Baudelaire in this poem, all right; and yes, there’s the underlying restlessness and sadness, too. It’s all a vast, airy, sad, submarine blue. I think that I might very slightly amend the third line of the second stanza for clarity’s sake, and should have looked at it again more closely before being in such a hurry to post. Diolch yn fawr eto.

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  2. What a visual poem, what splendour and yet what poignancy. My French would not be good enough to read this in the original but to translate a poem retaining rhyme scheme and metre, as you have done so magnificently, is no mean task!

    Liked by 1 person

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