Friday, 11 March 2011

Femmes Damnées

This is the second part of this week's Poetry task. For this task we had to read 'Femmes Damnées', or 'Damned Women', by Charles Baudelaire. Now, this poem is all in French, and although I did a year of French I have no idea what any of it meant. But for this task that did not matter so much. After reading the poem - and probably pronouncing it all wrong - we had to then write what we thought it said or our own version, keeping with the theme of damned women. I found this a tricky task as I am now used to writing and reading sonnets that I don't know how to write a normal poem with no set rules. So, it oddly rhymes and has a strange rhythm to it, but it will have to do for now; I may come back to it.
Firstly, here's Baudelaire's French version:

Femmes damnées

Comme un bétail pensif sur le sable couchées,
Elles tournent leurs yeux vers l'horizon des mers,
Et leurs pieds se cherchent et leurs mains rapprochées
Ont de douces langueurs et des frissons amers.

Les unes, coeurs épris des longues confidences,
Dans le fond des bosquets où jasent les ruisseaux,
Vont épelant l'amour des craintives enfances
Et creusent le bois vert des jeunes arbrisseaux;

D'autres, comme des soeurs, marchent lentes et graves
À travers les rochers pleins d'apparitions,
Où saint Antoine a vu surgir comme des laves
Les seins nus et pourprés de ses tentations;

II en est, aux lueurs des résines croulantes,
Qui dans le creux muet des vieux antres païens
T'appellent au secours de leurs fièvres hurlantes,
Ô Bacchus, endormeur des remords anciens!

Et d'autres, dont la gorge aime les scapulaires,
Qui, recélant un fouet sous leurs longs vêtements,
Mêlent, dans le bois sombre et les nuits solitaires,
L'écume du plaisir aux larmes des tourments.

Ô vierges, ô démons, ô monstres, ô martyres,
De la réalité grands esprits contempteurs,
Chercheuses d'infini dévotes et satyres,
Tantôt pleines de cris, tantôt pleines de pleurs,

Vous que dans votre enfer mon âme a poursuivies,
Pauvres soeurs, je vous aime autant que je vous plains,
Pour vos mornes douleurs, vos soifs inassouvies,
Et les urnes d'amour dont vos grands coeurs sont pleins

Charles Baudelaire

And here's my version:

Femmes Damnées

Their pale laps in which they languish,
Their profound and perfumed scent
Is hypnotising and caressing,
These are not innocent.

They are trouble and are tempting,
They feign naivety and simplicity,
The young voyager with not return
Across those horizons and back to home.

Artists, singers and merchants
All will meet the grave,
Those travellers that have ambitions
These temptresses will then stave.

Those who lure men from the loving light
And hand them silent pains,
They must endeavour this ancient remorse
To call out wicked names.

Sculptures that create the perfect beauty
Are neither safe from their wild wrath,
They are prone to fits of jealousy
And decay and destruction follow in their path.

O Virgin, O Demon, O Monster, O Martyr,
Those great spirits of contempt,
These are what they really are
Under their shadowy cloaks of deceit.

To follow their spirit is damning as hell,
Though to blame them would be cruel
They were born depraved and immoral
Just don’t become their willing fool.

 How was it?

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