Don Juan in Hell

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For other English-language translations of this work, see Don Juan aux enfers.
Don Juan in Hell / Don Juan aux enfers
by Charles Baudelaire
NOTE: No. 15 in the 1861 edition of "The Flowers of Evil" / "Les Fleurs du mal". Translated by James Elroy Flecker (1884 - 1915), published 1907. Source: The Flowers of Evil, ed. Marthiel and Jackson Mathews, New Directions edition, 1989.


Don Juan in Hell


The night Don Juan came to pay his fees
To Charon, by the caverned water’s shore,
A Beggar, proud-eyed as Antisthenes,
Stretched out his knotted fingers on the oar.

Mournful, with drooping breasts and robes unsewn
The shapes of women swayed in ebon skies,
Trailing behind him with a restless moan
Like cattle herded for a sacrifice.

Here, grinning for his wage, stood Sganarelle,
And here Don Luis pointed, bent and dim,
To show the dead who lined the holes of Hell,
This was that impious son who mocked at him.

The hollow-eyed, the chaste Elvira came,
Trembling and veiled, to view her traitor spouse.
Was it one last bright smile she thought to claim,
Such as made sweet the morning of his vows?

A great stone man rose like a tower on board,
Stood at the helm and cleft the flood profound:
But the calm hero, leaning on his sword,
Gazed back, and would not offer one look round.


The note on the translation:

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).