Parisian Dream

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

for Constantin Guys

Of this strange, awe-inspiring scene
Such as on earth one never sees,
Today the image once again,
Obscure and distant, captures me.

Sleep is so full of miracles!
By whimsy odd and singular
I've banished from these spectacles
Nature and the irregular.

And, happy with my artistry,
I painted into my tableau
The ravishing monotony
Of marble, metal, water-flow.

Babel of endless stairs, arcades,
It was a palace multifold
Replete with pools and bright cascades
Falling in dull or burnished gold;

And the more weighty waterfalls
Like crystal screens resplendent there
Along the metal rampart walls
Seemed to suspend themselves in air;

The sleeping pools - there were no trees
Gathered around them colonnades,
And in them naiadsĀ· at their ease
Could cast the narcissistic gaze.

Sheets of blue water, emptying
Between the green and rosy quays
From multitudes of openings,
Poured to the world's last boundaries;

Magical waves, to please the eye,
Splashed on unheard-of stones, and vast
Reflectors stood there, dazzled by
The world they mirrored in their glass!

Insouciant and taciturn,
Some Ganges, in the firmament,
Poured out the treasure of their urns
Into the gulfs of diamond.

Architect of my magic show,
I then required, for my mood,
Through a jewelled conduit to flow
An ocean I had first subdued.

And all, even the colour black,
Seemed polished, sparkling, clear and clean;
The liquid kept its glow intact
Within the solid crystal beam.

No star from anywhere, no sign
Of moon or sunshine, bright or dim,
Illuminate this scene of mine
Glowing with fire from within!

Over the pageantry appears
To hover (awful novelty
For eyes, but nothing for the ear!)
A silence of eternity.

Open, my ardent eyes could see
The horror of my wretched hole;
I felt my cursed cares to be
A needle entering my soul;

The clock proclaimed the time was noon
In accents brutal and perverse,
And from the misty sky a gloom
Poured through the torpid universe.

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