Poems and Baudelaire Flowers/The Cracked Bell

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


’Tis bitter-sweet, when winter nights are long,
To watch, beside the flames which smoke and twist,
The distant memories which slowly throng,
Brought by the chime soft-singing through the mist.

Happy the sturdy, vigorous-throated bell
Who, spite of age alert and confident,
Cries hourly, like some strong old sentinel
Flinging the ready challenge from his tent.

For me, my soul is cracked; when, sick with care,
She strives with songs to people the cold air
It happens often that her feeble cries

Mock the harsh rattle of a man who lies
Wounded, forgotten, ’neath a mound of slain
And dies, pinned fast, writhing his limbs in vain.