Voici venir les temps ou vibrant sur sa tige

Another beautiful poem from 19th century French maverick, Charles Baudelaire. Like almost no other poet he draws you in to the world of the senses, conveying sights, sounds, smells, feelings as if the reader is actually experiencing the same sensations as the poet. This almost makes you not notice the poetic craft which goes in to the work, but on second or third readings you start to notice and appreciate the wonderful way in which the poem is put together.

Please enjoy “Harmonie du Soir”, evening harmony, by Charles Baudelaire:

 
Harmonie du soir

Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!

Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu’on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.

Le violon frémit comme un coeur qu’on afflige,
Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige.

Un coeur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige…
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!

— Charles Baudelaire

From <http://fleursdumal.org/poem/142&gt;

The first stanza draws you in to an evening scene, with fading flowers giving off their last perfume like an incense burner, with heady sounds and smells inducing a sense of melancholy and slight weakness, as if the senses are overwhelmed by the stimuli of the evening.

The second stanza builds on the scent of the flowers and adds the sound of a violin playing to create an atmosphere of sensory richness bringing a sense of calm. It is as if the whole sky has created a place to rest and take in the sights, sounds and smells.

The final two stanzas deepen the descriptions of all the elements coming together to inebriate the poet. While the final line brings it all back to the poet’s lover – with all his senses at work, it makes her memory come alive, shining vividly in his mind.

Baudelaire uses repetition throughout the sonnet to accentuate the sensual impressions which he conveys. The “v” sound occurs many times though the poem, heralded by the first two words “Voici venir”. Spoken out loud this sound seems to bring with it the soft smells and sounds pervading the scene.

And then, there is the repetition of complete lines, which in a16 line poem is quite remarkable and a means of deepening the reader’s experience of the poem’s subject. From the first stanza, lines 2 and 4 are repeated as lines1 and 3 of the second stanza. And again, lines 2 and 4 of the second stanza are repeated as lines one and three of the third stanza. And once again, the same pattern is repeated from stanza three to stanza four. This is impressive technique which adds to, instead of getting in the way of, the sensual power of the poem.

The Poetry Dude

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2 thoughts on “Voici venir les temps ou vibrant sur sa tige

    • Of course, happy for you to link the blogs.

      You are right about Baudelaire, every one is a winner. I’m not trying to break new ground with my selections, you will have noticed that there are no truly contemporary pieces, really this is about reminding myself that there is so much established poetry to enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

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