L’Ame du Vin / The Soul of Wine

Oct 20

/ Paris /

L’Ame du Vin

Un soir, l’âme du vin chantait dans les bouteilles:

«Homme, vers toi je pousse, ô cher déshérité,

Sous ma prison de verre et mes cires vermeilles,

Un chant plein de lumière et de fraternité!

Je sais combien il faut, sur la colline en flamme,

De peine, de sueur et de soleil cuisant

Pour engendrer ma vie et pour me donner l’âme;

Mais je ne serai point ingrat ni malfaisant,

Car j’éprouve une joie immense quand je tombe

Dans le gosier d’un homme usé par ses travaux,

Et sa chaude poitrine est une douce tombe

Où je me plais bien mieux que dans mes froids caveaux.

Entends-tu retentir les refrains des dimanches

Et l’espoir qui gazouille en mon sein palpitant?

Les coudes sur la table et retroussant tes manches,

Tu me glorifieras et tu seras content;

J’allumerai les yeux de ta femme ravie;

À ton fils je rendrai sa force et ses couleurs

Et serai pour ce frêle athlète de la vie

L’huile qui raffermit les muscles des lutteurs.

En toi je tomberai, végétale ambroisie,

Grain précieux jeté par l’éternel Semeur,

Pour que de notre amour naisse la poésie

Qui jaillira vers Dieu comme une rare fleur!»
— Charles Baudelaire


The Soul of Wine

One night, the soul of wine was singing in the flask:

“O man, dear disinherited! to you I sing

This song full of light and of brotherhood

From my prison of glass with its scarlet wax seals.

I know the cost in pain, in sweat,

And in burning sunlight on the blazing hillside,

Of creating my life, of giving me a soul:

I shall not be ungrateful or malevolent,

For I feel a boundless joy when I flow

Down the throat of a man worn out by his labor;

His warm breast is a pleasant tomb

Where I’m much happier than in my cold cellar.

Do you hear the choruses resounding on Sunday

And the hopes that warble in my fluttering breast?

With sleeves rolled up, elbows on the table,

You will glorify me and be content;

I shall light up the eyes of your enraptured wife,

And give back to your son his strength and his color;

I shall be for that frail athlete of life

The oil that hardens a wrestler’s muscles.

Vegetal ambrosia, precious grain scattered

By the eternal Sower, I shall descend in you

So that from our love there will be born poetry,

Which will spring up toward God like a rare flower!”
Charles Baudelaire — William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

OR :
The Soul of Wine

One night the wine was singing in the bottles:

“Mankind, dear waif, I send to you, in spite

Of prisoning glass and rosy wax that throttles,

A song that’s full of brotherhood and light.

I know what toil, and pain, and sweat you thole,

Under the roasting sun on slopes of fire,

To give me life and to beget my soul —

So I will not be thankless to my sire,

Because I feel a wondrous joy to dive

Down, clown the throat of some work-wearied slave.

His warm chest is a tomb wherein I thrive

Better than in my subterranean cave.

Say, can you hear that rousing catch resound

Which hope within my beating heart sings high?

(With elbows on the table, sprawl around,

Contented hearts! my name to glorify.)

I’ll light the eyes of your delighted wife.

Your son I’ll give both rosy health and muscle

And be to that frail athlete of this life

Like oil that primes the wrestler for the tussle,

In you I fall, ambrosia from above,

Sown by the hand of the eternal Power,

That poetry may blossom from our love

And rear to God its rare and deathless flower!”
Charles Baudelaire — Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)

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