Exotic Perfume

Charles Baudelaire

Exotic Perfume

When, with both my eyes closed, on a hot autumn night,
I inhale the fragrance of your warm breast
I see happy shores spread out before me,
On which shines a dazzling and monotonous sun;

A lazy isle to which nature has given
Singular trees, savory fruits,
Men with bodies vigorous and slender,
And women in whose eyes shines a startling candor.

Guided by your fragrance to these charming countries,
I see a port filled with sails and rigging
Still utterly wearied by the waves of the sea,

While the perfume of the green tamarinds,
That permeates the air, and elates my nostrils,
Is mingled in my soul with the sailors' chanteys.

- Translated by William Aggeler

Exotic Perfume

When I, with eyes shut, on warm autumn eves,
The fragrance of your warmer breast respire,
I see a country bathed in solar fire
Whose happy shores its lustre never leaves;

An isle of indolence, where nature raises
Singular trees and fruits both sweet and tender,
Where men have bodies vigorous and slender
And women's eyes a candour that amazes.

Led by your scent to fairer climes at last,
I see a port of sails, where every mast
Seems weary of the labours of its cruise;

While scents of tamarind, blown here and there,
Swelling my nostrils as they rinse the air,
Are mingled with the chanties of the crews.

- Translated by Roy Campbell

Exotic Perfume

On autumn nights, eyes closed, when, sensuous,
I breathe the scent of your warm breasts, my sight
Is peopled by far shores, happy and bright,
Under a sun, warm and monotonous.

A lazy isle which nature, generous,
Stocks with weird trees and fruits of strange delight,
Men with lithe bodies, powerful but slight,
Women whose candid eyes flash luminous.

Urged by your scent to such charmed lands at last,
I see a port with many a sail and mast
Still weary from the ocean's frenzied roll,

While the green tamarinds exhale their savor
To please my nostrils with a dulcet flavor,
Mingled with sailor chanteys in my soul.

- Translation by Jacques LeClercq

Parfum exotique

when with closed eyes I drink the halcyon
warm autumn evening, on thy burning breast,
I see unfurl the atolls of the blest,
blazing in flame from an unchanging sun;

an isle of rest, where Nature's benison
breeds trees unique and fruits of savoury zest;
tall men who stride in vigour manifest;
women whose eyes of candour startle one.

I drift, thy fragrance bearing me afar,
into a port where every sail and spar
sway, wearied by the sea's beleaguering,

- where tamarinds bloom and draughts of perfume winging
through widening nostrils, blend in me to bring
the wind-blown chanteys mariners are singing.

- Translated by Lewis Piaget Shanks

The Exotic Perfume

When, with both eyes shut, on a close autumn evening,
I breathe the perfume of your heated breast,
I see happy shores unfold themselves
Dazzling in the flames of a monotonous sun;

A lay island where Nature bestows
Peculiar trees and savory fruit;
Men with bodies slim and virile,
Women with eyes of astonishing candor.

Led by your odor to climates of charm,
I see a harbor full of sails and masts
Still tired by the waves of the sea,

Whilst the perfume of green tamarind-trees
Circles the air and fills my nostrils,
Meets in my soul with the song of the seamen.

- Translated by Geoffrey Wagner

Last updated November 04, 2022