Charles Baudelaire: “Exotic Perfume”

Exotic Perfume

When I close my eyes on a warm autumn night
And inhale the fragrance of your burning breast,
Strange shores unravel before me, blessed
By a droning sun that grants them light:

I see a lazy island, where nature gives rise
To singular trees whose sweet fruits throng,
To men whose bodies are slender and strong,
To women with startling candor in their eyes.

Carried by your scent to such a charming land,
I reach a port where sails and riggings stand,
Utterly exhausted by the beating of the seas.

And the sweet perfume of the green tamarind,
Gladdens my nostrils and streams through the wind,
And mingles my heart with sailors’ melodies.

Charles Baudelaire

Translated from French by Paul Weinfield, © 2014

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