by Charles Baudelaire
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.
Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.
II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
- Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,
Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.
Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.
Like prolonged echoes mingling in the distance
In a deep and tenebrous unity,
Vast as the dark of night and as the light of day,
Perfumes, sounds, and colors correspond.
There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,
Sweet as oboes, green as meadows
- And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,
With power to expand into infinity,
Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin,
That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.
- Translated by William Aggeler
Nature's a temple where each living column,
At times, gives forth vague words. There Man advances
Through forest-groves of symbols, strange and solemn,
Who follow him with their familiar glances.
As long-drawn echoes mingle and transfuse
Till in a deep, dark unison they swoon,
Vast as the night or as the vault of noon -
So are commingled perfumes, sounds, and hues.
There can be perfumes cool as children's flesh,
Like fiddIes, sweet, like meadows greenly fresh.
Rich, complex, and triumphant, others roll
With the vast range of all non-finite things -
Amber, musk, incense, benjamin, each sings
The transports of the senses and the soul.
- Translated by Roy Campbell
All nature is one temple, the living aisles whereof
Murmur in a soft language, half strange, half understood;
Man wanders there as through a cabalistic wood,
Aware of eyes that watch him in the leaves above.
Like voices echoing in his senses from beyond
Life's watery source, and which into one voice unite,
Vast as the turning planet clothed in darkness and light,
So do all sounds and hues and fragrances correspond.
Perfumes there are as sweet as the music of pipes and strings,
As pure as the naked flesh of children, as full of peace
As wide green prairies - and there are others, having the whole
Corrupt proud all-pervasiveness of infinite things,
Like frankincense, and musk, and myrrh, and ambergris,
That cry of the ecstasy of the body and of the soul.
- Translated by George Dillon
In Nature's temple, living pillars rise,
Speaking sometimes in words of abstruse sense;
Man walks through woods of symbols, dark and dense,
Which gaze at him with fond familiar eyes.
Like distant echoes blent in the beyond
In unity, in a deep darksome way,
Vast as black night and vast as splendent day,
Perfumes and sounds and colors correspond.
Some scents are cool as children's flesh is cool,
Sweet as are oboes, green as meadowlands,
And others rich, corrupt, triumphant, full,
Expanding as infinity expands:
Benzoin or musk or amber that incenses,
Hymning the ecstasy of soul and senses.
- Translated by Jacques LeClercq
Nature's a fane where down each corridor
of living pillars, darkling whispers roll,
- a symbol-forest every pilgrim soul
must pierce, 'neath gazing eyes it knew before.
like echoes long that from afar rebound,
merged till one deep low shadowy note is born,
vast as the night or as the fires of morn,
sound calls to fragrance, colour calls to sound.
cool as an infant's brow some perfumes are,
softer than oboes, green as rainy leas;
others, corrupt, exultant, rich, unbar
wide infinities wherein we move at ease:
- musk, ambergris, frankincense, benjamin
chant all our soul or sense can revel in.
- Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks
Nature is a temple where living pillars
Let sometimes emerge confused words;
Man crosses it through forests of symbols
Which watch him with intimate eyes.
Like those deep echoes that meet from afar
In a dark and profound harmony,
As vast as night and clarity,
So perfumes, colors, tones answer each other.
There are perfumes fresh as children's flesh,
Soft as oboes, green as meadows,
And others, corrupted, rich, triumphant,
Possessing the diffusion of infinite things,
Like amber, musk, incense and aromatic resin,
Chanting the ecstasies of spirit and senses.
Translated by Geoffrey Wagner
Nature is a temple whose living colonnades
Breathe forth a mystic speech in fitful sighs;
Man wanders among symbols in those glades
Where all things watch him with familiar eyes.
Like dwindling echoes gathered far away
Into a deep and thronging unison
Huge as the night or as the light of day,
All scents and sounds and colors meet as one.
Perfumes there are as sweet as the oboe's sound,
Green as the prairies, fresh as a child's caress,
- And there are others, rich, corrupt, profound
And of an infinite pervasiveness,
Like myrrh, or musk, or amber, the excite
The ecstasies of sense, the soul's delight.
Translated by Anonymous
Last updated July 17, 2015