"Old Birch Tree at the Sognefjord" by Thomas Fearnley‘Meditation’ by Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), Translated by Joshua Mincio The Society January 18, 2021 Beauty, Poetry, Translation 6 Comments . Be good, my Sorrow. You may rest assured; The Evening whom you called descends; Behold; The fall of dusk leaves some in towns obscured With newfound peace, yet some with cares untold. Through gauntlet mortals move in sordid herd, While flailed by Pleasure, headsman uncontrolled, And reap Remorse by slavish feasts incurred. Away from them, my Sorrow. Let me hold Your hand. The bygone Years are hunched forlorn, Displayed in heaven, wrapped in robes outworn. Regret, from waters, grinning, seems to rise. Beneath an archway, see the dying light. And like a shroud that’s drawn from Eastern skies, My dear, observe the sweet approach of Night. . Original French Recueillement Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille. Tu réclamais le Soir; il descend; le voici: Une atmosphère obscure enveloppe la ville, Aux uns portant la paix, aux autres le souci. Pendant que des mortels la multitude vile, Sous le fouet du Plaisir, ce bourreau sans merci, Va cueillir des remords, dans la fête servile, Ma Douleur, donne-moi la main; viens par ici, Loins d’eux. Vois se pencher les défuntes Années, Sur les balcons du ciel, en robes surannées; Surgir du fond des eaux le Regret souriant; Le soleil moribond s’endormir sous une arche, Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l’Orient, Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche. . . Joshua Mincio lives in rural Oklahoma, in the shadow of the Benedictine Abbey of Clear Creek. Pursuing a B.A. in English through the University of London’s distance learning program, he also operates a micro-bakery. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 6 Responses Allegra Silberstein January 18, 2021 Thank you for translating this poem…it touches the soul…Allegra Reply Margaret Coats January 19, 2021 This is a gorgeous sonnet, Joshua. You stay close to Baudelaire, but in lines 3 and 4, you accomplish something that translators rarely achieve–by pointing the meaning in your original direction, where he leaves it general, all the while adhering to his words. He has the darkness enveloping the town with no distinction of persons, but you are able to let obscurity fall on those who find peace in the dark, and exempt the clear-sighted souls who know that darkness brings cares they dare not tell. If this isn’t timely regarding the current sorrow of those with eyes to see, what is? It surely expresses some of what I see and feel without being able to express it, and therefore I thank you for this exquisite vision. Reply Margaret Coats January 19, 2021 Having thought about the poem overnight, I have suggestions about two lines, but let me say first that I much admire “grinning” as your translation of Baudelaire’s “smiling” in line 11. In French, you would need an adjective to change the smile into a grin or smirk, and Baudelaire doesn’t give one, so this is your decision, and I think a highly appropriate one. Even if we take the rising from waters to represent a “tearful” smile, that’s not a grin. But Regret can have many different kinds of smile, and I like the one you specify for your English poem. I think line 9 would read better as “Grinning Regret from waters seems to rise.” Starting the line with a stressed syllable gives a little twist to the grin. And just for clarity, I would make line 5, “Vile mortals run the gauntlet as a herd.” Reply Joshua Mincio January 21, 2021 Mrs. Coats, thank you for your comments. I spent a long time on the two lines you mention, but ultimately decided to keep the meter. Is it acceptable to break from the meter every once in a while? Is it better because it is at the beginning of a line? Reply Margaret Coats January 22, 2021 Most poets make occasional variations in meter both to give the poem’s flow of sound a little variety, and to accommodate words and phrases that do not naturally fall into the chosen meter. See the essay “The Spice of Life” by Adam Sedia, here at SCP–but notice the comment on it by Evan Mantyk, who warns sloppy writers not to justify carelessness by calling it “metrical variation.” In recent discussions within Comments here, Joseph Salemi has strongly defended substitution of a trochaic foot for an iambic, which is the variation I suggested to you for line 11 above. It is more important to hear the expected stresses in the line than to have them always fall in a regular pattern. Your line 11 is perfectly acceptable as you wrote it; my feeling was that the commas broke it up uncomfortably. However, I see that different pictures of Regret result from your choice and from mine. The grin is immediately prominent in mine, while the grin emerging from waters in yours seems more alive and ominous. Metrical variations can happen anywhere in the poetic line, but at the end of a rhymed line they interfere with the rhyme. C.B. Anderson January 25, 2021 This is a lovely sonnet, Joshua, and I hope you have taken to heart the comments by Dr. Coats. I like bread, but I would probably be happier if you operated a micro-brewery. Oklahoma is OK. Anyone should be proud to be an Okie (whether from Muskogee or not). Driving along I-40, I have witnessed the red bluffs there more than once. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.