Charles Baudelaire

Afternoon Song

Though your mischievous eyebrows Give you a singular air, Not that of an angel, Sorceress with Siren's eyes, I adore you, my madcap, My ineffable passion! With the pious devotion Of a priest for his idol. Your stiff tresses are scented With the desert and forest, Your head assumes the poses Of the enigma and key. Perfume lingers about your flesh Like incense about a censer; You charm like the evening, Tenebrous, passionate nymph. Ah! the most potent philtres Are weaker than your languor, And you know the caresses That make the dead live again! Your haunches are enamored Of your back and your bosom And you delight the cushions With your languorous poses. Sometimes, to alleviate Your mysterious passion, You lavish, resolutely, Your bites and your kisses; You tear me open, dark beauty, With derisive laughter, And then look at my heart With eyes as soft as moonlight Under your satin slippers, Under your dear silken feet, I place all my happiness, My genius and destiny, My soul brought to life by you By your clear light and color, Explosion of heat In my dark Siberia! Translated by - William Aggeler Afternoon Song O witch with sharp alluring eyes, Although your evil eyebrows lend Your strange ways little of the friend And even less of angel skies, How I adore your madcap verve, How deeply rooted, my fell passion! I worship you in the rapt fashion Of priests for idols that they serve. Your stiff dense tresses fragrantly Conjure up wilderness and wood, Your head assumes each attitude Of the enigma and its key. Perfumes cling closely to your flesh As incense to a censer; bright And dusky nymph, you are all Night, Secret and passionate and fresh! The strongest philter vies in vain Power against your languidness, Too well you know the sweet caress That brings the dead to life again. Your haunches are enamored of Your supple back and surging breast, And when, posed torpidly, you rest, Your cushions taste the charms of love. Sometimes to quell the rageful fire Of your mysterious lust, you lavish Obstinate kiss and bite to ravish The throbbing prey of your desire. You rend my body to its seams, Dark beauty, with your mocking laughter, Then fill my heart a moment after With glances soft as the moon's beams. Under your satin slippers, see, Under your blest silk feet, I lay The vast sum of my joys today, My genius, my destiny, My soul, enlivened by your spark Your radiance and color, sweet Explosion of fierce tropic heat Across my chill Siberian dark! Translated by - Jacques LeClercq Song of Afternoon Though your eyebrows' wicked slant Give you an intriguing air Which the angels do not share Sorceress, whose eyes enchant - My passion, terrible yet gay, With all my heart I bow before you, With that devotion to adore you That priests to sacred idols pay. Deserts and woods embalmed your hair, Its movements give your head the stigma Of sphinx-like secret and enigma, Both in its attitude and air. As round a censer vapours form, About your flesh the perfumes wander. The selfsame charms you seem to squander As does an evening, dark yet warm, The strongest philtres cannot craze As does your indolent address And you have mastered a caress Dead corpses from their tombs to raise. Your hips are amorous of your breast And of your back: your languorous pose Enchants the cushions where you doze When in their depths you make your nest. Sometimes in order to appease Mysterious rages in your soul, You bite and kiss without control. Then with a mocking laugh you tease My heart, brown beauty, tearing it: Then over it the light is strewn Of your eye, softer than the moon, Till with its glance my soul is lit. Underneath your satin shoes, And underneath your silken feet, My joy, my fate, my genius meet To strew the pathway of my muse. My soul is healed, restored and made complete By you, all colour, warmth, and light, In my Siberia a bright Explosion as of tropic heat. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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