‘L’Homme et la Mer’

When winter comes, I always feel missing Noordzee. Is it childhood or something else? I saw many seas and oceans, this one is strorming in my heart.; so close to verses of Charles Baudelaire with whom I share so many feelings.

Here from Les Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil):

‘L’Homme et la Mer”

‘Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer!
La mer est ton miroir; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.
Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image;
Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.
Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets:
Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes;
Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets!
Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remords,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables!’

 

‘Free man, you shall forever cherish the vast sea,
The sea, that image where you contemplate your soul
As everlastingly its mighty waves unroll.
Your mind a yawning gulf seasoned as bitterly.

You love to plunge into your image to the core,
Embracing it with eyes and arms; your very heart
Sometimes finds a distraction from its urgent smart
In the wild sea’s untamable and plaintive roar.

Both of you live in darkness and in mystery:
Man, who has ever plumbed the far depths of your being?
O Sea, who knows your private hidden riches, seeing
How strange the secrets you preserve so jealously?

And yet for countless ages you have fought each other
With hands unsparing and with unforbearing breath,
Each an eternal foe to his relentless brother,
So avid are you both of slaughter and of death.’

Translation: Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil