The Ideal (Sturm)

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The Ideal / L’Idéal
by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Frank Pearce Sturm
NOTE: No. 18 in the 1861 edition of "The Flowers of Evil" / "Les Fleurs du mal". Translated by F. P. Sturm (1879 - 1942), published 1906. Source: The Flowers of Evil, ed. Marthiel and Jackson Mathews, New Directions edition, 1989.


The Ideal


Never those beauties in old prints vignetted,
Those shopworn products of a worthless age,
With slippered feet and fingers castanetted,
The thirst of hearts like my heart can assuage.

To Gavarni, the poet of chloroses,
I leave his troupe of beauties sick and wan;
I cannot find among those pale, pale roses
The red ideal mine eyes would gaze upon.

You, Lady Macbeth, a soul strong in crime,
Aeschylus’ dream born in a northern clime —
Ah, you could quench my dark heart’s deep desiring;

Or you, Michelangelo’s daughter, Night,
In a strange posture dreamily admiring
Your beauty fashioned for a giant’s delight!


The note on the translation: