Charles Baudelaire’s The Albatross

Charles Baudelaire's The Albatross translated by R J Dent

Here’s Charles Baudelaire’s The Albatross.

The poem is from R J Dent’s translation of The Flowers of Evil, published by Solar Books.

The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise by Charles Baudelaire translated by R J Dent

More details can be found here:

The Albatross has been set to music by the Finnish composer/musician Outi Tarkiainen.

The first performance was in Helsinki in September 2009.

Here’s the video clip:

Translation © R J Dent 2009/Music © Outi Tarkiainen 2009

And here are the lyrics:

The Albatross

Often, for amusement, the sailing crew

catch that bird of the seas – the albatross;

companion on our voyage, it follows

the ship as it slides through the sea’s abyss.

When this once-great sky king has been dumped,

awkward and ashamed, onto the ship’s boards,

it pitifully drags its great white wings

along its feathered sides like useless oars.

This graceful voyager through shades of blue,

once beautiful, is now clumsy and weak;

one sailor mocks the cripple who once flew,

another stubs a pipe out on its beak.

The poet is just like this prince of clouds;

beyond range, above storms – these are his haunts;

exiled on Earth amidst a jeering crowd,

his giant wings won’t permit him to walk.

Translation © R J Dent (2009)

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2 Responses to “Charles Baudelaire’s The Albatross”

  1. Simon Attenburgh Says:

    A very powerful poem – love this version of Baudelaire’s metaphysical classic.

  2. Alison Rennie Says:

    Lovely version of this classic poem – never heard it sung by a soprano before…

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