Flying Free

(from the French of Charles Baudelaire)

Above the lakes, above the vales,
mountains, woods, and clouds and seas,
beyond the sun and astral winds,
beyond remotest starry spheres

my spirit wanders with the utmost ease,
as the sturdiest swimmer revels in waves –
cleaves blithely through the boundless ways
with virile joy – exquisitely.

Fly! Far from all baneful pressures,
be cleansed in purest air.
Drink of its glorious nectar;
its lucid flame is everywhere.

Beyond all the cares and vexations
that weigh and obscure our lives,
happy the one who can steadily soar
through the peaceful fields of light –

the one whose thoughts, like skylarks,
in the morning sky take wing,
who skims over life and grasps with ease
the speech of flowers and voiceless things.

(From ‘Otherworld’ )


Au-dessus des étangs, au dessus des vallées,
Des montagnes, des bois, des nuages, des mers,
Par delà le soleil, par delà les éthers,
Par delà les confins des sphères étoilées,

Mon esprit, tu de meus avec agilité,
Et, comme un bon nageur qui se pâme dans l’onde,
Tu sillonnes gaiement l’immensité profonde
Avec une indicible et mâle volupté.

Envole-toi bien loin de ces miasmes morbides;
Va te purifier dans l’air supérieur,
Et bois, comme une pure et divine liqueur,
Le feu clair qui remplit les espaces limpides.

Derrière les ennuis et les vastes chagrins
Qui chargent de leur poids l’existence brumeuse,
Heureux celui qui peut d’une aile vigoureuse
S’élancer vers les champs lumineux et sereins;

Celui dont les pensers, comme des alouettes,
Vers les cieux le matin prennent un libre essor,
– Qui plane sur la vie, et comprend sans effort
Le langage des fleurs et des choses muettes!


I don’t have much time to read poetry these days, and am grateful to a good friend who every week or so sends me on-screen poems to read, – classic pieces by famous poets we all know, as well as poems by many another modern writer of whom I have usually never heard. These are easy to go to, and it’s handy to keep up with what’s going on. Today the poem was ‘Elevation’ by Charles Baudelaire. I’ve done a few of Baudelaire’s poems into English, and remembered that this was one of them. Thank you, up there in the Welsh north, Gill Brown!

The poem Gill sent was translated by Timothy Donnelly, whose version can be found on the Poetry Foundation site at < > .

5 thoughts on “Flying Free

  1. Oh, this is beautiful. The very words soar and speak of freedom. Even with my limited French I can see how true your version is to the original. Hyfryd!


    1. Thanks, Jacydo! Yep, how to stay true to the original without playing about with it too much is the thing – and as a first class translator, I know very well that you know this

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you, Jacydo. Coming from a first-class translator, that’s really appreciated. You might like to look at the translation in the link. See what you think?


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