Le chat de Charles

Le Chat— Charles Baudelaire

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.

Translation by Denise DeVries

Perch, my lovely cat, on my lovestruck heart;
keep your claws sheathed in your paws,
and let me dive into your eyes,
agate melded with ore.
When my fingers slowly stroke
your head and elastic back,
my hand buzzing with pleasure
from your electric body,
I see my beloved in spirit, a look,
like yours, benignant beast,
deep and cold, that cuts and rends like a blade,
and, from heel to crown,
a subtle air, a dangerous perfume
wafts around that golden form.


Scrolling through emails before my shower can be dangerous.  I thought I’d take a look at “This Week in Literary History” and ended up translating a poem. There were four perfectly good translations to accompany the original version of “Le Chat,” but I had to try my own. After all, as Edith Grossman says, “translation is writing.”  Writing should be my priority, right?

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