The Albatross

Original Text: 

Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, ed. Josef Nygrin, trans. William Aggeler (1954), Roy Campbell (1952), Cat Nilan (1999), Geoffrey Wagner (1974), Kenneth O. Hanson (1955), and David Paul (1955). Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Licence, 2008. 19-21.


1Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew
2Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds
3That indolently follow a ship
4As it glides over the deep, briny sea.
5Scarcely have they placed them on the deck
6Than these kings of the sky, clumsy, ashamed,
7Pathetically let their great white wings
8Drag beside them like oars.
9That winged voyager, how weak and gauche he is,
10So beautiful before, now comic and ugly!
11One man worries his beak with a stubby clay pipe;
12Another limps, mimics the cripple who once flew!
13The poet resembles this prince of cloud and sky
14Who frequents the tempest and laughs at the bowman;
15When exiled on the earth, the butt of hoots and jeers,
16His giant wings prevent him from walking.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharaine Leung
RPO Edition: