by Charles Baudelaire
Au pays parfumé que le soleil caresse,
J'ai connu, sous un dais d'arbres tout empourprés
Et de palmiers d'où pleut sur les yeux la paresse,
Une dame créole aux charmes ignorés.
Son teint est pâle et chaud; la brune enchanteresse
A dans le cou des airs noblement maniérés;
Grande et svelte en marchant comme une chasseresse,
Son sourire est tranquille et ses yeux assurés.
Si vous alliez, Madame, au vrai pays de gloire,
Sur les bords de la Seine ou de la verte Loire,
Belle digne d'orner les antiques manoirs,
Vous feriez, à l'abri des ombreuses retraites
Germer mille sonnets dans le coeur des poètes,
Que vos grands yeux rendraient plus soumis que vos noirs.
To a Creole Lady
In the perfumed country which the sun caresses,
I knew, under a canopy of crimson trees
And palms from which indolence rains into your eyes,
A Creole lady whose charms were unknown.
Her complexion is pale and warm; the dark enchantress
Affects a noble air with the movements of her neck.
Tall and slender, she walks like a huntress;
Her smile is calm and her eye confident.
If you went, Madame, to the true land of glory,
On the banks of the Seine or along the green Loire,
Beauty fit to ornament those ancient manors,
You'd make, in the shelter of those shady retreats,
A thousand sonnets grow in the hearts of poets,
Whom your large eyes would make more subject than your slaves.
- Translated by William Aggeler
To a Colonial Lady
In scented countries by the sun caressed
I've known, beneath a tent of purple boughs,
And palmtrees shedding slumber as they drowse,
A creole lady with a charm unguessed.
She's pale, and warm, and duskily beguiling;
Nobility is moulded in her neck;
Slender and tall she holds herself in check,
An huntress born, sure-eyed, and quiet-smiling.
Should you go, Madam, to the land of glory
Along the Seine or Loire, where you would merit
To ornament some mansion famed in story,
Your eyes would bum in those deep-shaded parts,
And breed a thousand rhymes in poets' hearts,
Tamed like the negro slaves that you inherit.
- Translated by Roy Campbell
To a Creole Lady
In that perfumed country caressed by the sun,
I have known, under a canopy of purple trees
And palms raining idleness upon the eyes,
A creole lady of private beauty.
Her shade is pale and warm; this brown enchantress
Has gracefully mannered airs in her neck;
Large and sinuous, walking like a huntress,
Her smile is silent and her eyes secure.
If you should go, Madam, to the true country of glory,
On the banks of the Seine or of the green Loire,
Fair lady fit to decorate ancient mansions,
In some shady and secluded refuge, you would awake
A thousand sonnets in the hearts of poets,
Whom your great eyes would make more subject than your Blacks.
- Translated by Geoffrey Wagner
Last updated July 17, 2015