by Charles Baudelaire
Pour soulever un poids si lourd,
Sisyphe, il faudrait ton courage!
Bien qu'on ait du coeur à l'ouvrage,
L'Art est long et le Temps est court.
Loin des sépultures célèbres,
Vers un cimetière isolé,
Mon coeur, comme un tambour voilé,
Va battant des marches funèbres.
- Maint joyau dort enseveli
Dans les ténèbres et l'oubli,
Bien loin des pioches et des sondes;
Mainte fleur épanche à regret
Son parfum doux comme un secret
Dans les solitudes profondes.
To lift a weight so heavy,
Would take your courage, Sisyphus!
Although one's heart is in the work,
Art is long and Time is short.
Far from famous sepulchers
Toward a lonely cemetery
My heart, like muffled drums,
Goes beating funeral marches.
Many a jewel lies buried
In darkness and oblivion,
Far, far away from picks and drills;
Many a flower regretfully
Exhales perfume soft as secrets
In a profound solitude.
- Translated by William Aggeler
So huge a burden to support
Your courage, Sisyphus, would ask;
Well though my heart attacks its task,
Yet Art is long and Time is short.
Far from the famed memorial arch
Towards a lonely grave I come.
My heart in its funereal march
Goes beating like a muffled drum.
- Yet many a gem lies hidden still
Of whom no pick-axe, spade, or drill
The lonely secrecy invades;
And many a flower, to heal regret,
Pours forth its fragrant secret yet
Amidst the solitary shades.
- Translated by Roy Campbell
A man would needs be brave and strong
As Sisyphus, for such a task!
It is not greater zeal I ask -
But life is brief, and art is long.
To a forsaken mound of clay
Where no admirers ever come,
My heart, like an invisible drum,
Goes beating a dead march all day.
Many a jewel of untold worth
Lies slumbering at the core of earth,
In darkness and oblivion drowned;
Many a flower has bloomed and spent
The secret of its passionate scent
Upon the wilderness profound.
- Translated by George Dillon
To bear a weight that cannot be borne,
Sisyphus, even you aren't that strong,
Although your heart cannot be torn
Time is short and Art is long.
Far from celebrated sepulchers
Toward a solitary graveyard
My heart, like a drum muffled hard
Beats a funeral march for the ill-starred.
-Many jewels are buried or shrouded
In darkness and oblivion's clouds,
Far from any pick or drill bit,
Many a flower unburdens with regret
Its perfume sweet like a secret;
In profoundly empty solitude to sit.
Translated by William A. Sigler
Last updated January 14, 2019