À la très chère, à la très belle

This wonderful poem by Baudelaire is entitled Hymn, but it could almost equally be entitled Prayer or Psalm, as he takes the form of religious praise of a deity and uses it as a vehicle for worship of his loved one.


À la très chère, à la très belle
Qui remplit mon coeur de clarté,
À l’ange, À l’idole immortelle,
Salut en l’immortalité!

Elle se répand dans ma vie
Comme un air imprégné de sel,
Et dans mon âme inassouvie
Verse le goût de l’éternel.

Sachet toujours frais qui parfume
L’atmosphère d’un cher réduit,
Encensoir oublié qui fume
En secret à travers la nuit,

Comment, amour incorruptible,
T’exprimer avec vérité?
Grain de musc qui gis, invisible,
Au fond de mon éternité!

À la très bonne, à la très belle
Qui fait ma joie et ma santé,
À l’ange, à l’idole immortelle,
Salut en l’immortalité!

— Charles Baudelaire

From <http://fleursdumal.org/poem/311&gt;

Some things I like about this poem: the rhyme scheme is really well-constructed, with alternate lines rhyming in each stanza, this is very hard to achieve with this level of consistency and quality; vocabulary follows form, with words like “ange”, “immortalite”, “encensoir”, “idole” reinforcing the religious quality of this expression of love as adoration; the Baudelairean appeal to the senses, particularly the allusions to rich and heady scents and fragrances giving a heady impression of intoxication; the echo of the poetic style of Clement Marot, in phrases like “A la tres chere, a la tres belle”, and “A la tres bonne, a la tres belle” – the nineteenth century thus finding inspiration in one of the masters of the sixteenth century.

The Poetry Dude


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