Charles Baudelaire

The Cat

I In my brain there walks about, As though he were in his own home, A lovely cat, strong, sweet, charming. When he mews, one scarcely hears him, His tone is so discreet and soft; But purring or growling, his voice Is always deep and rich; That is his charm and secret. That voice forms into drops, trickles Into the depths of my being, Fills me like harmonious verse And gladdens me like a philtre. It lulls to sleep the sharpest pains, Contains all ecstasies; To say the longest sentences, It has no need of words, No, there's no bow that plays upon My heart, that perfect instrument, And makes its most vibrant chord Sing more gloriously Than your voice, mysterious cat, Seraphic cat, singular cat, In whom, as in angels, all is As subtle as harmonious! II From his brown and yellow fur Comes such sweet fragrance that one night I was perfumed with it because I caressed him once, once only. A familiar figure in the place, He presides, judges, inspires Everything within his province; Perhaps he is a fay, a god? When my gaze, drawn as by a magnet, Turns in a docile way Toward that cat whom I love, And when I look within myself, I see with amazement The fire of his pale pupils, Clear signal-lights, living opals, That contemplate me fixedly. Translated by - William Aggeler The Cat I Along my brain there walks, As though in its own home, A lovely, strong and sweet and charming cat. When it mews, one hardly hears, So tender and discreet its tone; Appeasing or complaining its voice Is always rich and deep: Therein is its charm and secret. This voice, which glistens and strains Through the darkest soils of my being, Satiates me like an harmonious line, Delights me like a philter. It lulls to sleep most cruel ills And holds all ecstasy; To tell the longest phrase, It has no need of words. No, there is no bow that gnaws On my heart, perfect instrument, To make more regally sing The most vibrant string, Than your voice, mysterious, Seraphic, strange cat, In whom all is, like an angel, As subtle as harmonious! II From its fair and dark fur Comes a scent so gentle, that one night I was caught in its balm, by having Caressed it once, only once. It is the familiar spirit of the place; It judges, presides, inspires Everything in its empire; It is perhaps a fairy or a god? When my eyes, drawn like a magnet To this cat that I love, Come meekly back again And I look inside myself, I see with amazement The fire of its pale pupils, Clear beacons, living opals, Looking at me fixedly. Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner The Cat I A fine strong gentle cat is prowling As in his bedroom, in my brain; So soft his voice, so smooth its strain, That you can scarcely hear him miowling. But should he venture to complain Or scold, the voice is rich and deep: And thus he manages to keep The charm of his untroubled reign. This voice, which seems to pearl and filter Through my soul's inmost shady nook, Fills me with poems, like a book, And fortifies me, like a philtre. His voice can cure the direst pain And it contains the rarest raptures. The deepest meanings, which it captures, It needs no language to explain. There is no bow that can so sweep That perfect instrument, my heart: Or make more sumptuous music start From its most vibrant cord and deep, Than can the voice of this strange elf, This cat, bewitching and seraphic, Subtly harmonious in his traffic With all things else, and with himself. II So sweet a perfume seems to swim Out of his fur both brown and bright, I nearly was embalmed one night From (only once) caressing him. Familiar Lar of where I stay, He rules, presides, inspires and teaches All things to which his empire reaches. Perhaps he is a god, or fay. When to a cherished cat my gaze Is magnet-drawn and then returns Back to itself, it there discerns, With strange excitement and amaze, Deep down in my own self, the rays Of living opals, torch-like gleams And pallid fire of eyes, it seems, That fixedly return my gaze. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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