The Cracked Bell
By Charles Baudelaire
How bittersweet it is, on winter's night,
To listen, by the sputtering, smoking fire,
As distant memories, through the fog-dimmed light,
Rise, to the muffled chime of churchbell choir.
Lucky the bell—still full and deep of throat,
Clear-voiced despite its years, strong, eloquent—
That rings, with faithful tongue, its pious note
Like an old soldier, wakeful, in his tent!
My soul lies cracked; and when, in its despair,
Pealing, it tries to fill the cold night air
With its lament, it often sounds, instead,
Like some poor wounded wretch—long left for dead
Beneath a pile of corpses, lying massed
By bloody pool—rattling, gasping his last.
Translated by Norman R. Shapiro
from Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal: A Bilingual Edition
Copyright 1998 and 1999 by The University of Chicago