Friday, June 26, 2009

The Broken Bell

Like bitter sugar, falls November snow,
All night beside the dying embers' glow,
While far-off memories awake are kissed
By pealing church bells in the mist.
The happy, respectable ancient bell
Faithfully casts its elevating song:
In spite of age, it's still alert and well:
A soldier keeping watch before the dawn.
But as for me, my very soul is cracked,
And when it wants to fill the night with song
It only manages a voiceless hack---
The last gasp of one wounded and alone.
Beside the crimson lake, immobilized,
Beneath weight of humanity he dies.

Translated by Frederick Ingram (c) 2009

Here is the original by Charles Baudelaire, with some older translations. The most literal is the Aggeler. My favorite is the Millay:

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