Charles Baudelaire


She's a beautiful woman with opulent shoulders Who lets her long hair trail in her goblet of wine. The claws of love, the poisons of brothels, All slips and all is blunted on her granite skin. She laughs at Death and snaps her fingers at Debauch. The hands of those monsters, ever cutting and scraping, Have respected nonetheless the pristine majesty Of her firm, straight body at its destructive games. She walks like a goddess, rests like a sultana; She has a Mohammedan's faith in pleasure And to her open arms which are filled by her breasts, She lures all mortals with her eyes. She believes, she knows, this virgin, sterile And yet essential to the march of the world, That a beautiful body is a sublime gift That wrings a pardon for any foul crime. She is unaware of Hell and Purgatory And when the time comes for her to enter The black Night, she will look into the face of Death As a new-born child, - without hatred or remorse. Translated by - William Aggeler Allegory She is a woman of appearance fine Who lets her tresses trail into her wine. Love's claws and poisons, brewed in sinks of sin, Fall blunted from the granite of her skin. She mocks Debauchery, Death leaves her blithe, Two monsters always handy with the scythe. In their grim games, where so much beauty's wrecked, They treat her majesty with due respect. Half goddess, half sultana, without scathe, In pleasure she's a Moslem's steady faith. Between her open arms, filled by her breasts, For all mankind with burning eyes she quests, And she believes, this fruitless virgin-wife, Who's yet so necessary to this life, That beauty of the body is a gift Sublime enough all infamy to shift, And win forgiveness. She knows naught of Hell. When the Night comes, in which she is to dwell, Straight in the face she'll look her deadly Fate, Like one new-born - without remorse or hate. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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