Friday, June 30, 2006


I am doing my reading for my English class and have come across Baudelaire, aka my new favorite poet. Considering his poetry was composed in French and that I know not a lick of it, I was able to experience the "spirit" and "feeling" of his poetry through the many translations. While they are each different in some ways, the imagery of his words shines through vividly. I thought I would share with you one of these translations.

"My Former Life"

For a long time I dwelt under vast porticos
Which the ocean suns lit with a thousand colors
The pillars of which, tall, straight, and majestic,
Made them, in the evening, like basaltic grottos.

The billows which cradled the image of the sky
Mingled, in a solemn, mystical way,
The omnipotent chords of their rich harmonies
With the sunsets' colors reflected in my eyes;

It was there that I lived in voluptuous calm,
In splendor, between the azure and the sea,
And I was attended by slaves, naked, perfumed,

Who fanned my brow with fronds of palms
And whose sole task it was to fathom
The dolorous secret that made me pine away.

-William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil
(translated from "La Vie Anterieure", Charles Baudelaire)

The words make you see the colorful, setting sun shining through the porticos and the slaves with their giant fronds, waving over, transmitting their rich perfumes through the warm, sunlit room. I love it!

Another of my fav poets (I only have a few) is Maya Angelou. However, I think, to fully appreciate her poetry, it has to be heard performed by herself or someone with a perfect voice for her words, such as Alfre Woodard.

by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me.
Amazing. Truth in every word.

1 comment:

Joe said...

I've been meaning to comment on here for a few days...Loved the fish picture. That looks really beautiful where you all were! And I loved reading this poetry. Maya is a favorite. Hope you're all well.