This one really had a profound effect on me when I read it way back in my internet infancy because I felt I had been treated this way and put an albatross on my first collection's cover. Add to list. English translation French.
Eli Siegel’s note to the poem:
The Albatross , By Charles Baudelaire. The Albatross is one of these ingenious moral poems. It belongs to the Ethical Bestiary of the nineteenth century. The albatross becomes part of an anecdote; the infelicity a poet may be near is before us—and the infelicity is striking, sad, funny. Poets have been awkward: they have seemed funny. Coleridge, Shelley, Swinburne, among others, have seemed funny. Walking and flying can stand for two kinds of consciousness which may collide and call each other names. The albatross contains enough of the farcical, tragical implications of unplanned doubleness. And in his writing on them, we understand these often mysterious poems with a clarity people have longed for.
Translation by Eli Siegel
Often, to amuse themselves, the men of a crew Catch albatrosses, those vast sea birds That indolently follow a ship As it glides over the deep, briny sea. Scarcely have they placed them on the deck Than these kings of the sky, clumsy, ashamed, Pathetically let their great white wings Drag beside them like oars. That winged voyager, how weak and gauche he is, So beautiful before, now comic and ugly! One man worries his beak with a stubby clay pipe; Another limps, mimics the cripple who once flew! The poet resembles this prince of cloud and sky Who frequents the tempest and laughs at the bowman; When exiled on the earth, the butt of hoots and jeers, His giant wings prevent him from walking. Sometimes for sport the men of loafing crews Snare the great albatrosses of the deep, The indolent companions of their cruise As through the bitter vastitudes they sweep. Scarce have they fished aboard these airy kings When helpless on such unaccustomed floors, They piteously droop their huge white wings And trail them at their sides like drifting oars.
Charles Baudelaire's "The Albatross" is a French lyric poem. Les Fleurs du Mal was one of the most influential and controversial works of the nineteenth century. Among its themes are beauty and ugliness in life, boredom, death, disillusionment and despair, the role of the poet, and cultural decadence. The book frequently uses symbols to represent themes and ideas. After Baudelaire published the first edition of the poems in , a court decreed that several of them were obscene and blasphemous. He had to remove six poems before publishing the second edition. The albatross is among the most graceful and effortless fliers of all seabirds. It can glide in the wind for hours, never flapping its wings. However, in calm weather, it tires easily because of its large body.