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Some Remarks on Baudelaire's Influence
upon Modern Poetry and Thought, Page 9

by Guy Thorne (1915).

I am as certain as I am certain of anything that Wilde's poem "The Sphinx" was primarily inspired by the poem of Baudelaire in that section of "Les Fleurs du Mal" entitled "Spleen et Idéal," called "Les Chats." I have already pointed out how certain images were taken from another poem of Baudelaire, but now we are coming to the original fountain.

In the few translations I offer of Baudelaire's poems I have chosen representative verses which seem to me to express Baudelaire at his best. The poem "Les Chats" has been translated by Mr. Cyril Scott in a little volume of selections published by Mr. Elkin Mathews. Here is "Les Chats" of Baudelaire:

"Les amoureux fervents et les savants austères
Aiment également, dans leur mûre saison,
Les chats puissants et doux, orgueil de la maison,
Qui comme eux sont frileux et comme eux sédentaires.

"Amis de la science et de la volupté,
Ils cherchent le silence et l'horreur des ténèbres ;
L'Érèbe les eût pris pour ses coursiers funèbres,
S'ils pouvaient au servage incliner leur fierté.

"Ils prennent en songeant les nobles attitudes
Des grands sphinx allongés au fond des solitudes,
Qui semblent s'endormir dans un rêve sans fin ;

"Leurs reins féconds sont pleins d'étincelles magiques,
Et des parcelles d'or, ainsi qu'un sable fin,
Étoilent vaguement leurs prunelles mystiques."


And here is Mr. Scott's rendering:

"All ardent lovers and all sages prize,
As ripening years incline upon their brows—
The mild and mighty cats—pride of the house—
That like unto them are indolent, stern and wise.

"The friends of Learning and of Ecstasy,
They search for silence and the horrors of gloom;
The devil had used them for his steeds of Doom,
Could he alone have bent their pride to slavery.

"When musing, they display those outlines chaste,
Of the great sphinxes—stretched o'er the sandy waste,
That seem to slumber deep in a dream without end:

"From out their loins a fountainous furnace flies,
And grains of sparkling gold, as fine as sand,
Bestar the mystic pupils of their eyes."


PAGE 9 OF 13.

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