Journal & Travels / Poetry

La Voix, Poème de Charles Baudelaire Publié en 1857.

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) "Painting Breathes Life into Sculpture", 1893, oil on canvas, Collection of  Art Gallery of Ontario  Source

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904) “Painting Breathes Life into Sculpture”, 1893, oil on canvas, Collection of
Art Gallery of Ontario Source

Within this first half of 2015 I have attended two funerals, one in the Netherlands and one in Indonesia. The first one was ceremony for mother of a friend who, after battling cancer for over one year decided for euthanasia. Second one is my uncle’s funeral who had intercranial hematoma, his death was sudden for all of us family.

To me, experiencing how people deal with death in different circumstances and culture has certainly shed some perspective. In regards of death, I suppose I am more on team Socrates where death as not being a bad thing. This is to all of us who has experienced loss of loved ones, to keep our spirit in living life.

La Voix

Mon berceau s’adossait à la bibliothèque,
Babel sombre, où roman, science, fabliau,
Tout, la cendre latine et la poussière grecque, Se mêlaient.
J’était haut comme un in-folio.
Deux voix me parlaient. L’une, insidieuse et ferme,
Disait: “La Terre est un gâteau plein de douceur”;
Je puis (et ton plaisir serait alors sans terme!)
Te faire un appétit d’une égale grosseur.”
Et l’autre: “Viens! oh! viens voyager dans les rêves,
Au delà du possible, au delà du connu!”
Et celle-là chantait comme le vent des grèves,
Fantôme vagissant, on ne sait d’où venu,
Qui caresse l’oreille et cependant l’effraie.
Je te répondis: “Oui! douce voix!”C’est d’alors
Que date ce qu’on peut, hélas! nommer ma plaie
Et ma fatalité. Derrière les décors
De l’existence immense, au plus noir de l’abîme,
Je vois distinctement des mondes singuliers,
Et, de ma clairvoyance extatique victime,
Je traîne des serpents qui mordent mes souliers.
Et c’est depuis ce temps que, pareil aux prophètes,
J’aime si tendrement le désert et la mer;
Que je ris dans les deuils et pleure dans les fêtes,
Et trouve un goût suave au vin le plus amer;
Que je prends très souvent les faits pour des mensonges,
Et que, les yeux au ciel, je tombe dans des trous.
Mais la voix me console et dit:
“Garde tes songes: Les sages n’en ont pas d’aussi beaux que les fous!”

The Voice
as translated into English by George Dillon, Flowers of Evil (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1936)

I grew up in the shadow of a big bookcase: a tall
Babel, where verses, novels, histories, row upon row —
The immemorial ashes of Greek and Latin — all
Mingled and murmured. When I was as high as a folio,
I heard two voices speaking. The first one said: “Be wise;
The world is but a large, delicious cake, my friend!
It calls for an appetite of corresponding size
And whoso heeds my counsel, his joys shall have no end.”
The other voice spoke softly: “Come, travel with me in dreams,
Far, far beyond the range of the possible and the known!”
And in that voice was the senseless music of winds and streams
Blown suddenly out of nowhere and into nowhere blown —
A phantom cry, a sound to frighten and captivate.
And I replied: “I will, O lovely voice!” And from
That hour was sealed for ever the disastrous fate
Which still attends me! Always, behind the tedium
Of finite semblances, beyond the accustomed zone
Of time and space, I see distinctly another world —
And I must wear with loathing these mortal toils, as one
Dragging a weight of serpents about his ankles curled.
And from that hour, like the old prophets of Palestine,
I love extravagantly the wilderness and the sea;
I find an ineffable joy in the taste of harsh, sour wine;
I smile at the saddest moments; I weep amid gaiety;
I take facts for illusions and often as not, with my eyes
Fixed confidently upon the heavens, I fall into holes.
But the Voice comforts me: “Guard, fool, thy dreams! The wise
Have none so beautiful as thou hast.” And the Voice consoles.


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