Charles Baudelaire: The Albatross

Often, to entertain themselves, the crew would find
Some albatrosses, seabirds known for grace and force,
Those indolent companions who follow behind
The vessel gliding on its bitter, endless course.

As soon as they’re abruptly dumped onto the planks,
These rulers of the blue, awkward and insecure,
Allow their vast white wings to piteously flank
Their sides and drag along the deck like useless oars.

Look at the winged explorer, so aberrant, weak!
Him, recently so handsome, who’s now an ugly wimp!
One sailor puts his pipe up to the creature’s beak;
Another mimes a flying cripple with a limp.

The poet is exactly like the prince of clouds
Who haunts the hurricanes and mocks the archers’ strings;
Exiled to earth, surrounded by cacophonous crowds,
Her walking is impeded by her giant wings.

 

Charles Baudelaire : L’Albatros

Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l’azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d’eux.

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule!
Lui, naguère si beau, qu’il est comique et laid!
L’un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L’autre mime, en boitant, l’infirme qui volait!

Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l’archer;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l’empêchent de marcher.

Traci O'Dea

Traci O'Dea

Traci O’Dea lives in the Channel Islands, UK. Her work has appeared in Poetry, 32Poems, Unsplendid, The Fiddlehead, A Room of One’s Own, and other literary journals as well as the anthology Where I See the Sun: Contemporary Poetry in the Virgin Islands.
Traci O'Dea

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Author: Traci O'Dea

Traci O’Dea lives in the Channel Islands, UK. Her work has appeared in Poetry, 32Poems, Unsplendid, The Fiddlehead, A Room of One’s Own, and other literary journals as well as the anthology Where I See the Sun: Contemporary Poetry in the Virgin Islands.