Le Chat/The Cat by Charles Baudelaire
translated by Florence Major
Viens, mon beau chat, sur mon coeur amoureux;
Retiens les griffes de ta patte,
Et laisse-moi plonger dans tes beaux yeux,
Mêlés de métal et d’agate.
Lorsque mes doigts caressent à loisir
Ta tête et ton dos élastique,
Et que ma main s’enivre du plaisir
De palper ton corps électrique,
Je vois ma femme en esprit. Son regard,
Comme le tien, aimable bête
Profond et froid, coupe et fend comme un dard,
Et, des pieds jusques à la tête,
Un air subtil, un dangereux parfum
Nagent autour de son corps brun.
Come my beautiful cat, rest on my amorous heart.
Restrain the sharp claws of your passage;
I will plunge into the hearth
Where your agate eyes burn with savage
Metal. While my fingers move lazily
To stroke your head and yielding spine,
My hands pulse with a frisson that fills me
And guides me; I remember my divine
Mistress. I see her in essence, her look
Just like yours, dear personable beast.
Profound and cold, it pierced and shook
Me, a captive from her head to her feet.
What perilous perfume her dusky body gives;
The brown opium of my desire still lives.
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was a poet, art critic, essayist and a pioneering translator of Edgar Allen Poe. He is famous for Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers Of Evil) from which he gained both notoriety and acclaim. Like Edouard Manet, the painter who was a close friend of Baudelaire, his work was a transition from the romanticism and classical idioms of the day. Baudelaire brought a sensual realism into poetry, and urban settings that were far from the bucolic or mythological allegories so prevalent in the poetry and painting of the time.
Florence Major is an artist and poet born in Montreal, Quebec, and living in New York City. She has poems in The Chaffey Review and Cerise Press. See her Rilke translations earlier in the issue for a note on her approach to translation.