Charles Baudelaire

To an Auburn-Haired Beggar-Maid

Pale girl with the auburn hair, Whose dress through its tears and holes Reveals your poverty And your beauty, For me, an ailing poet, Your body, young and sickly, Spotted with countless freckles, Has its sweetness. You wear with more elegance Your wooden clogs than the queen In a romance her sandals Trimmed with velvet. Instead of a scanty rag, Let a glittering court dress Trail with its long, rustling folds Over your heels; In place of stockings with holes, Let, for the eyes of roues, A golden poniard glisten In your garter; Let ill-tied ribbons give way And unveil, so we may sin, Your two lovely breasts, radiant As shining eyes; Let your arms demand entreating To uncover your body And repel with saucy blows Roguish fingers, Pearls of the finest water, Sonnets by Master Belleau Constantly offered by swains Held in love's chains, Plebeian versifiers Offering first books to you And ogling your slippered foot From under the stair; Many a page fond of love's chance, Many a Ronsard and lord For amusement would spy on Your chilly hut! You could count in your beds More kisses than fleurs-de-lis And subject to your power Many Valois! - However, you go begging Some moldy refuse lying On the steps of some Vefour At the crossroads; You go furtively eyeing Baubles at twenty-nine sous, Of which I can't, oh! pardon! Make you a gift. Go, with no more adornment, Perfume or pearl or diamond, Than your slender nudity, O my beauty! Translated by - William Aggeler To a Red-Haired Beggar Girl Little white girl with red hair, The holes in your frock Show poverty And beauty, For me, a poor poet, Your young and ailing body, Spotted with, freckles, Has its sweetness. You carry more gallantly, Than can a queen of fiction Her high-boots of velvet, Your heavy clogs. In place of rags too short for you, May a fine court costume Be drawn in blustering, long folds At your heels; In place of stockings in holes, May a dagger of gold Glitter for the eyes of rakes On your leg; May barely fastened knots Reveal for our sinning Your lovely breasts, radiant As two eyes; May, to undress yourself, Your arms require coaxing And may they archly repel Mischievous fingers, May pearls of finest water, Sonnets by Belleau, Be ceaselessly proffered By your enslaved lovers, Trains of servant rhymers, Dedicating first lines to you And watching your slipper Under the staircase, Many a flunkey struck at random, Many a lord and many a Ronsard Would spy to seduce it Your tender retreat! You would count more kisses Than lilies in your beds And you would hold in sway More than one Valois! - Meanwhile you go begging Some old rubbish lying On the threshold of some Vulgar Vefour; You go gaping past your shoulder At twenty-nine sou jewels Of which, I cannot, I am sorry, Make a gift to you. Go then, without other ornament, Perfume, pearls or diamonds, Than your emaciated nudity, O my beauty! Translated by - Geoffrey Wagner The Red-Haired Beggar Girl White girl with flame-red hair, Whose garments, here and there, Give poverty to view, And beauty too. To me, poor puny poet, Your body, as you show it, With freckles on your arms, Has yet its charms. You wear with prouder mien Than in Romance a queen Her velvet buskins could - Your clogs of wood. In place of tatters short Let some rich robe of court Swirl with its silken wheels After your heels: In place of stockings holed A dagger made of gold, To light the lecher's eye, Flash on your thigh: Let ribbons slip their bows And for our sins disclose A breast whose radiance vies Even with your eyes. To show them further charms Let them implore your arms, And these, rebuking, humble Fingers that fumble With proferred pearls aglow And sonnets of Belleau, Which, fettered by your beauty, They yield in duty. Riffraff of scullion-rhymers Would dedicate their primers Under the stairs to view Only your shoe. Each page-boy lucky-starred, Each marquis, each Ronsard Would hang about your bower To while an hour. You'd count, among your blisses, Than lilies far more kisses, And boast, among your flames, Some royal names. Yet now your beauty begs For scraps on floors, and dregs Else destined to the gutter, As bread and butter. You eye, with longing tense, Cheap gauds for thirty cents, Which, pardon me, these days I cannot raise. No scent, or pearl, or stone, But nothing save your own Thin nudity for dower, Pass on, my flower! Translated by - Roy Campbell

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