The Dancing Serpent

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

How I adore, dear indolent,
Your lovely body, when
Like silken cloth it shimmers
Your sleek and glimmering skin!

Within the ocean of your hair,
All pungent with perfumes,
A fragrant and a wayward sea
Of waves of browns and blues,

Like a brave ship awakening
To winds at break of day,
My dreamy soul sets forth on course
For skies so far away.

Your eyes, where nothing is revealed,
The bitter nor the sweet,
Are two cold stones, in which the tinctures
Gold and iron meet.

Viewing the rhythm of your walk,
Beautifully dissolute,
One seems to see a serpent dance
Before a wand and flute.

Your childlike head lolls with the weight
Of all your idleness,
And sways with all the slackness of
A baby elephant's,

And your lithe body bends and stretches
Like a splendid barque
That rolls from side to side and wets
With seas its tipping yards.

As when the booming glaciers thaw
They swell the waves beneath,
When your mouth's water floods into
The borders of your teeth,

I know I drink a gypsy wine,
Bitter, subduing, tart,
A liquid sky that strews and spangles
Stars across my heart!

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