Poems and Baudelaire Flowers/Elevation

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Poems and Baudelaire Flowers
by Charles Baudelaire, translated by John Collings Squire


Above the valleys and above the meres,
The mountains and the woods, the clouds, the seas,
Beyond the sun and ether distances,
Beyond the confines of the starry spheres,

Swiftly, my spirit, thou dost hold thy flight,
And, as one swoons with joy on the sea’s breast,
Those calm eternal deeps thou furrowest
With an ineffable and strong delight.

Leave far beneath thy feet these pestilent places
To bathe in upper air, and quench desire
With unpolluted draughts of that clear fire
Which fills the luminous and limpid spaces.

O happy who can cast aside his chains,
The heavy load of grief and weariness,
And, winging from this misty wilderness,
Can set his eyes on those far-shining plains!

Whose lark-like thoughts, with bright, untrammelled wings,
Spring upward when the morning skies are clear;
Who soars o’er life, and effortless can hear
The secret speech of flowers and dumb things!