September 12th, 2003

by Charles Baudelaire

The darling one was naked, and knowing my wish,
Had kept only the regalia of her jewellery
Whose resonant charms can lure and vanquish
Like a Moorish slave-girl’s in her moment of glory.

A world of dazzling stones and of precious metals
Flinging, in its quick rhythm, glints of mockery
Ravishes me into ecstasy, I love to madness
The mingling of sounds and lights in one intricacy.

Naked, then, she was to all of my worship,
Smiling in triumph from the heights of her couch
At my desire advancing, as gentle and deep
As the sea sending its waves to the warm beach.

Her eyes fixed as a tiger’s in the tamer’s trance,
Absent, unthinking, she varies her poses
With an audacity and wild innocence
That gave a strange pang to each metamorphosis.

Her long legs, her hips, shining smooth as oil,
Her arms and her thighs, undulant as a swan,
Lured my serene, clairvoyant gaze to travel
To her belly and breasts, the grapes of my vine.

With a charm as powerful as an evil angel
To trouble and calm where my soul had retreated,
They advanced slowly to dislodge it from its crystal
Rock, where its loneliness meditated.

With the hips of Antiope, the torso of a boy,
So deeply was the one form sprung into the other
It seemed as if desire had fashioned a new toy.
Her fared, fawn-brown skin was perfection to either !

–And the lamp having at last resigned itself to death,
There was nothing now but firelight in the room,
And every time a flame uttered a gasp for breath
It flushed her amber skin with the blood of its bloom.

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