Duellum (The Duel)

Charles Baudelaire

Version I

Two warriors rushed upon each other; their arms
Spattered the air with sparks and blood.
This fencing, this clashing of steel, are the uproar
Of youth when it becomes a prey to puling love.

The blades are broken! like our youth
My darling! But the teeth, the steely fingernails,
Soon avenge the sword and the treacherous dagger.
- O Fury of mature hearts embittered by love!

In the ravine haunted by lynxes and panthers,
Our heroes viciously clasping each other, rolled,
And their skin will put blooms on the barren brambles.

This abyss, it is hell, thronged with our friends!
Let us roll there without remorse, cruel amazon,
So the ardor of our hatred will be immortalized!

- Translated by William Aggeler


Two fighters rushed together: sabres bleak
With crimson blood-gouts lit the air above.
That clinking swordplay was the tender squeak
Of youth , when it's a prey to bleating love.

The swords are splintered, like our youth, my darling,
And now it's teeth and talons are the fashion.
The clash of swords is child's play to the snarling
Of hearts adult in ulcerated passion.

In the ravine by lynx and leopard haunted,
Our heroes, wrestling heroes, roll undaunted.
Rags of their skin flower red upon the gorse.

This gulf is hell, and peopled by our friends.
Here, hellcat! Come, let's roll without remorse
To celebrate a feud that never ends!

- Translated by Roy Campbell


Two warriors dueled upon the battle ground,
Their arms scattering bright sparks and blood; above
This sport, the clash of steel gave forth the sound
Of youth fallen a prey to puling love.

The blades are broken, darling, like the moon
Of our sweet youth! but teeth and fingernails
Avenge the sword and traitorous dagger soon.
Old hearts that love's old bitterness assails!

In the ravine where lynx and panther ramble,
Our heroes bite the dust in fierce embrace,
Their skin shall bring new bloom to the dry bramble.

This pit is hell, our friends' choice dwelling place!
Let us roll there, O cruel Amazon,
So our fierce hatred may live on and on!

- Translated by Jacques LeClercq

Last updated March 05, 2023