Charles Baudelaire

The Dancing Serpent

Indolent darling, how I love To see the skin Of your body so beautiful Shimmer like silk! Upon your heavy head of hair With its acrid scents, Adventurous, odorant sea With blue and brown waves, Like a vessel that awakens To the morning wind, My dreamy soul sets sail For a distant sky. Your eyes where nothing is revealed Of bitter or sweet, Are two cold jewels where are mingled Iron and gold. To see you walking in cadence With fine abandon, One would say a snake which dances On the end of a staff. Under the weight of indolence Your child-like head sways Gently to and fro like the head Of a young elephant, And your body stretches and leans Like a slender ship That rolls from side to side and dips Its yards in the sea. Like a stream swollen by the thaw Of rumbling glaciers, When the water of your mouth rises To the edge of your teeth, It seems I drink Bohemian wine, Bitter and conquering, A liquid sky that scatters Stars in my heart! Translated by - William Aggeler The Dancing Serpent How I love to watch, dear indolent creature, The skin of your so Beautiful body glisten, like some Quivering material! On your deep coiffure Bitter scented, Scented, restless sea, With the blue and brown waves, Like a ship waking To the wind of morning, My dreamy soul prepares For skies far away. Your eyes, where nothing is revealed Of sweet or sour, Are two cold gems whose gold Is mixed with iron. Seeing your harmonious walk, Abandoned beauty, One would say a snake was dancing At the end of a stick. Under the weight of your sloth Your infant head Is balanced with the indolence Of a young elephant, And your body bends and stretches Like a delicate ship Pitching from side to side and sinking Its spars in the water. Like a wave swelled by the melting Of a groaning glacier, When your saliva rises To the edges of your teeth, I feel I drink some Bohemian wine, Bitter, victor, A liquid sky that scatters Stars in my heart! Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner Dancing Serpent Indolent love, with what delight I watch the tawny flesh Of your sweet body shimmer bright As a bright silken mesh. On your thick tresses, love, you wear Sharp perfumes for a crown, A venturesome sweet sea, your hair, With billows blue and brown. Your eyes never betray by sign What grief or joy they hold, They are cold jewels that combine Strong iron and rare gold. Even as a vessel that awakes When morning breezes rise, So my dream-laden spirit takes Off for strange distant skies. Your sinuous cadenced walk enhancing Your slim proud gait, a frond Swaying, you are, or a snake dancing Atop a fakir's wand. Under a laziness like lead Your childlike head aslant Sways soft and gentle as the head Of a young elephant, Your body like a slender ship In tense or bowing motion Rolls, slow, from side to side to dip Its yards deep in the ocean. Ice thawed by currents from the south Swell the swift streams beneath, So when the water of your mouth Rises against your teeth, I seem to drink Bohemian wine Victorious and tart, A liquid sky that strews benign Stars in my peaceful heart. Translated by - Jacques LeClercq The Snake that Dances I love to watch, while you are lazing, Your skin. It iridesces Like silk or satin, smoothly-glazing The light that it caresses. Under your tresses dark and deep Where acrid perfumes drown, A fragrant sea whose breakers sweep In mazes blue or brown, My soul, a ship, to the attraction Of breezes that bedizen Its swelling canvas, clears for action And seeks a far horizon. Your eyes where nothing can be seen Either of sweet or bitter But gold and iron mix their sheen, Seem frosty gems that glitter. To see you rhythmically advancing Seems to my fancy fond As if it were a serpent dancing Waved by the charmer's wand. Under the languorous moods that weigh it, Your childish head bows down: Like a young elephant's you sway it With motions soft as down. Your body leans upon the hips Like a fine ship that Iaves Its hull from side to side, and dips Its yards into the waves. When, as by glaciers ground, the spate Swells hissing from beneath, The water of your mouth, elate, Rises between your teeth - It seems some old Bohemian vintage Triumphant, fierce, and tart, A liquid heaven that showers a mintage Of stars across my heart. Translated by - Roy Campbell

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