Poem of the Week

The Port

Charles Baudelaire
Richard Sieburth

For a soul worn out by the battles of life, a port offers a pleasant retreat. The vast expanse of the sky, the mobile architecture of the clouds, the changing colors of the sea, the sparkles of the lighthouses—all provide a prism marvelously suited to entertain the eye without ever wearying it. The soaring shapes of the ships with their intricate riggings, harmoniously swaying to and fro in the sea swell, serve to maintain the soul’s appetite for rhythm and beauty. And above all, for someone who has lost all curiosity and ambition, there is a kind of mysterious and aristocratic pleasure to be had in contemplating, as he reclines on the belvedere or props his elbows on the jetty, all these people busy leaving or returning, people still possessed of willpower, of the desire to travel or make their fortune.

From Late Fragments by Charles Baudelaire, translated from the French and edited by Richard Sieburth. Published by Yale University Press in May 2022 in the Margellos World Republic of Letters series. Reproduced by permission.

Charles Baudelaire was a poet, essayist, art critic, and translator widely regarded as a giant of 19th-century French culture.
Richard Sieburth is Professor Emeritus of English, French, and Comparative Literature at New York University.
Originally published:
April 27, 2022


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