By Charles Baudelaire. Translated from the French by Ariana Reines, for Delirium: The Art of the Symbolist Book, an exhibition currently on view at the Morgan Library and Museum, in New York City.
Nature is a temple where living pillars
Sometimes let out confused lyrics
Man passes through, across forests of symbols
Each one observing him with a familiar gaze
Like long echoes, from afar confounding
In a dark and profound unity
Vast like night and like clarity
Fragrance, color, and sound all resounding
Fresh perfumes like the fleshes of children
Tender as oboes, green as prairies,
—And others too, corrupt, rich, and triumphant,
Expansive, like all infinite things
Amber, musk, benzoin, and incense
All singing the transcendence of spirit and sense.