Translating Baudelaire


It is an abandoned city by the sea;
the wide streets are deserted and empty,
the houses hold nothing but silences,
and the pale sun-lit autumn air resounds
with echoes of a strident, vibrant past.

As I walk between ornamental parks
and vast buildings, seeing their perfection,
smelling the sea scents and the rich perfumes,
hearing the faint echoes of then, combined
with the wave rush and shingle drag of now,
I know you are reclining in a fine-
ly furnished room, immaculately dressed
and feeding a cat in between each line.

Translating Baudelaire
© R J Dent (2003 & 2009)

Translating Baudelaire is a much anthologised poem which has appeared in Braquemard, The Colour of Light and Best Poems & Poets 2003. It is included in R J Dent’s new poetry collection, Moonstone Silhouettes.


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4 Responses to “Translating Baudelaire”

  1. paul Says:

    what’s the name of this city?

  2. R J Dent Says:

    It’s Dayton, Ohio…

  3. Leon Uris Says:

    Love this poem. You’ve caught Baudelaire in a typical Parisian pose – and a typical Baudelairean one too. Nice work.

  4. John Charles Says:

    Lovely poem about a city by the sea, but is it really about translating Baudelaire? I don’t recall reading anything about Baudelaire living in a city by the sea.

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