The Monday Poem: Which is True?

Charles Baudelaire
WHICH IS TRUE?
Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire

by Charles Baudelaire

I knew one Benedicta who filled earth and air with the ideal; and from whose eyes men learnt the desire of greatness, of beauty, of glory, and of all whereby we believe in immortality.

But this miraculous child was too beautiful to live long; and she died only a few days after I had come, to know her, and I buried her with my own hands, one day when Spring shook out her censer in the graveyards. I buried her with my own hands, shut down into a coffin of wood, perfumed and incorruptible like Indian caskets.

And as I still gazed at the place where I had laid away my treasure, I saw all at once a little person singularly like the deceased, who trampled on the fresh soil with a strange and hysterical violence, and said, shrieking with laughter: “Look at me! I am the real Benedicta! a pretty sort of baggage I am! And to punish you for your blindness and folly you shall love me just as I am!”

But I was furious, and I answered: “No! no! no!” And to add more emphasis to my refusal I stamped on the ground so violently with my foot that my leg sank up to the knee in the earth of the new grave; and now, like a wolf caught in a trap, I remain fastened, perhaps for ever, to the grave of the ideal.

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2 thoughts on “The Monday Poem: Which is True?

  1. A wonderfully odd text by Beaudelaire! Thank you for this. (It just prompted me to read the original version and I am still smiling.) Kenza.
    – If I may, the actual translation of the title from french is “which is the real one?” (laquelle est la vraie?) I prefer it to “which is true?”

    Liked by 1 person

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