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L'albatros (poem)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

by Verlain
Tekening voor Baudelaire's 'L'Albatros'.jpeg
WrittenJanuary 1841
Subject(s)Albatross, seamen
Form4 Quatrains
Rhyme schemeABAB

L'Albatros (French for The Albatross) is a poem by decadent French poet Charles Baudelaire.[1]

The poem, inspired by an incident on Baudelaire's trip to Bourbon Island in 1841, was begun in 1842 but not completed until 1859 with the addition of the final verse.[2][3][4] It was first published in La Revue française [fr] in 1859, and was printed as the second poem in the second edition (1861) of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal.[5]

Italian writer, literary critic, and university professor Antonio Prete [it] gave the poem a full treatment in his 1994 book L'albatros di Baudelaire.[6]


The poem is located in the section "Spleen et Idéal". It is built with four alexandrins quatrains with crossed Rhymes (ABAB type), alternating feminine and masculine word endings.

  Literal translation

Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l'azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d'eux.

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule !
Lui, naguère si beau, qu'il est comique et laid !
L'un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L'autre mime, en boitant, l'infirme qui volait !

Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer ;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher

Often, to amuse themselves, the crewmen
Catch albatrosses, vast sea-birds,
Which follow, indolent companions of the voyage,
The ship gliding on the bitter gulfs.

Hardly have they put them on deck,
When these kings of the azure, clumsy and ashamed,
Pitifully let go their great white wings,
Like oars dragging alongside them.

This winged voyager, how awkward and weak he is!
He, once so beautiful, he's so funny and ugly!
One teases his beak with a pipestem,
Another mimes, limping, the cripple that once flew!

The Poet is like this prince of the clouds
Who haunts the tempest and laughs at the archer;
Exiled on the ground, in the midst of jeers,
His giant wings keep him from walking.


  1. ^ Prentice-Hall, inc (1996). Literature: World Masterpieces. Prentice Hall Literature. Prentice Hall. p. 905. ISBN 978-0-13-414624-9. Retrieved 10 June 2019. The Albatross Charles Baudelaire translated by Kate Flores Ofttimes, for diversion, seafaring men Capture albatross, ... in the second stanza reveal that this poem was partially inspired by Baudelaire's memories of his 1841 voyage toward ... {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ Kunapipi (in Maltese). Dangaroo Press. 2007. p. 52. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  3. ^ Lagarde, A.; Michard, L. (1969). XIXe siècle: les grands auteurs français du programme. Collection littéraire Lagarde et Michard (in French). Bordas. p. 434. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  4. ^ Chambers, R. (2004). Untimely Interventions: AIDS Writing, Testimonial, and the Rhetoric of Haunting. University of Michigan Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-472-06871-5. Retrieved 10 June 2019. In 1841, Baudelaire made a voyage to the Indian Ocean, from which he returned with a tropical version of exotic ... In an anthology piece dating from this period, he describes the albatross as a bird that soars free, "prince des nuées," but when ...
  5. ^ Hemmings, F.W.J. (2011). Baudelaire the Damned: A Biography. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-4482-0471-7. Retrieved 10 June 2019. ... mild elation when on June 9th, 1841, he boarded his vessel, the Paquebot-des-Mers-du-Sud, and sailed out of Bordeaux ... laugh themselves silly at the sight of its unavailing efforts to escape;for the albatross can take flight only from the open sea.
  6. ^ Sasso, L. (2003). Nomi di cenere: percorsi di onomastica letteraria tra Ottocento e Novecento. Nominatio. Collana di studi onomastici (in Italian). ETS. p. 50. ISBN 978-88-467-0728-4. Retrieved 10 June 2019.

Further reading

This page was last edited on 2 February 2023, at 19:33
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