Blog Poetry

Correspondences By Charles Pierre Baudelaire


Nature is a temple in which living pillars

Sometimes give voice to confused words;

Man passes there through forests of symbols

Which look at him with understanding eyes.

Like prolonged echoes mingling in the distance

In a deep and tenebrous unity,

Vast as the dark of night and as the light of day,

Perfumes, sounds, and colors correspond.

There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,

Sweet as oboes, green as meadows

– And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,

With power to expand into infinity,

Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin,

That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.

– Translated by William Aggeler


Nature’s a temple where each living column,

At times, gives forth vague words. There Man advances

Through forest-groves of symbols, strange and solemn,

Who follow him with their familiar glances.

As long-drawn echoes mingle and transfuse

Till in a deep, dark unison they swoon,

Vast as the night or as the vault of noon –

So are commingled perfumes, sounds, and hues.

There can be perfumes cool as children’s flesh,

Like fiddIes, sweet, like meadows greenly fresh.

Rich, complex, and triumphant, others roll

With the vast range of all non-finite things –

Amber, musk, incense, benjamin, each sings

The transports of the senses and the soul.

– Translated by Roy Campbell


All nature is one temple, the living aisles whereof

Murmur in a soft language, half strange, half understood;

Man wanders there as through a cabalistic wood,

Aware of eyes that watch him in the leaves above.

Like voices echoing in his senses from beyond

Life’s watery source, and which into one voice unite,

Vast as the turning planet clothed in darkness and light,

So do all sounds and hues and fragrances correspond.

Perfumes there are as sweet as the music of pipes and strings,

As pure as the naked flesh of children, as full of peace

As wide green prairies – and there are others, having the whole

Corrupt proud all-pervasiveness of infinite things,

Like frankincense, and musk, and myrrh, and ambergris,

That cry of the ecstasy of the body and of the soul.

– Translated by George Dillon


In Nature’s temple, living pillars rise,

Speaking sometimes in words of abstruse sense;

Man walks through woods of symbols, dark and dense,

Which gaze at him with fond familiar eyes.

Like distant echoes blent in the beyond

In unity, in a deep darksome way,

Vast as black night and vast as splendent day,

Perfumes and sounds and colors correspond.

Some scents are cool as children’s flesh is cool,

Sweet as are oboes, green as meadowlands,

And others rich, corrupt, triumphant, full,

Expanding as infinity expands:

Benzoin or musk or amber that incenses,

Hymning the ecstasy of soul and senses.

– Translated by Jacques LeClercq


Nature’s a fane where down each corridor

of living pillars, darkling whispers roll,

– a symbol-forest every pilgrim soul

must pierce, ‘neath gazing eyes it knew before.

like echoes long that from afar rebound,

merged till one deep low shadowy note is born,

vast as the night or as the fires of morn,

sound calls to fragrance, colour calls to sound.

cool as an infant’s brow some perfumes are,

softer than oboes, green as rainy leas;

others, corrupt, exultant, rich, unbar

wide infinities wherein we move at ease:

– musk, ambergris, frankincense, benjamin

chant all our soul or sense can revel in.

– Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks


Nature is a temple where living pillars

Let sometimes emerge confused words;

Man crosses it through forests of symbols

Which watch him with intimate eyes.

Like those deep echoes that meet from afar

In a dark and profound harmony,

As vast as night and clarity,

So perfumes, colors, tones answer each other.

There are perfumes fresh as children’s flesh,

Soft as oboes, green as meadows,

And others, corrupted, rich, triumphant,

Possessing the diffusion of infinite things,

Like amber, musk, incense and aromatic resin,

Chanting the ecstasies of spirit and senses.

Translated by Geoffrey Wagner


Nature is a temple whose living colonnades

Breathe forth a mystic speech in fitful sighs;

Man wanders among symbols in those glades

Where all things watch him with familiar eyes.

Like dwindling echoes gathered far away

Into a deep and thronging unison

Huge as the night or as the light of day,

All scents and sounds and colors meet as one.

Perfumes there are as sweet as the oboe’s sound,

Green as the prairies, fresh as a child’s caress,

– And there are others, rich, corrupt, profound

And of an infinite pervasiveness,

Like myrrh, or musk, or amber, the excite

The ecstasies of sense, the soul’s delight.

Translated by Anonymous

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