Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Juxtapositions: Lǐ Bái and Baudelaire

Gustave Caillebotte, "Rue de Paris, temps de pluie" (1877)

On the Road, To a Beautiful Woman (mid-8th century)
Lǐ Bái
Translated by François Cheng, Donald Riggs, and Jerome Seaton

White horse, haughty, treads on flowers.
My pendant whip, brushed her Five-cloud carriage.
She smiled, and raised a pearled curtain.
Pointed out the bright red hall, "My home," she said.

To a Passing Woman (1857)
Charles Baudelaire

The deafening street around me was howling.
Long, thin, in heavy mourning, majestic grief,
A woman passed—lifting, balancing
The scallop and the hem with a sumptuous hand,

Lithe and noble, with the leg of a statue.
Me—I was drinking (on edge like a madman)
In her eye (livid sky where the hurricane sprouts)
The sweetness that rivets and the pleasure that kills.

A bolt... then the night!—Fugitive beauty
Whose glance made me suddenly reborn,
Will I see you no more than in eternity?

Elsewhere, quite far from here! too late! never, maybe!
For I ignore where you flee, you don't know where I go,
Oh you whom I had loved—oh you who knew it!



À une passante (1857)
Charles Baudelaire

La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait.
Longue, mince, en grand deuil, douleur majestueuse,
Une femme passa, d'une main fastueuse
Soulevant, balançant le feston et l'ourlet;
Agile et noble, avec sa jambe de statue.
Moi, je buvais, crispé comme un extravagant,
Dans son oeil, ciel livide où germe l'ouragan,
La douceur qui fascine et le plaisir qui tue.
Un éclair... puis la nuit! — Fugitive beauté
Dont le regard m'a fait soudainement renaître,
Ne te verrai-je plus que dans l'éternité?
Ailleurs, bien loin d'ici! trop tard! jamais peut-être!
Car j'ignore où tu fuis, tu ne sais où je vais,
Ô toi que j'eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!
— Charles Baudelaire