The Snake That Dances

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

How I love to watch, dear indolence,
like a bright shimmer,
of fabric, the skin of your elegant
body glimmer!

Over the bitter-tasting perfume,
the depths of your hair,
odorous, restless spume,
blue, and brown, waves, there,

like a vessel that stirs, awake
when dawn winds rise,
my dreaming soul sets sail
for those distant skies.

Your eyes where nothing’s revealed
either acrid or sweet,
are two cold jewels where steel
and gold both meet.

Seeing your rhythmic advance,
your fine abandon,
one might speak of a snake that danced
at the end of the branch it’s on.

Under its burden of languidness,
your head’s child-like slant,
rocks with weak listlessness
like a young elephant’s,

and your body heels and stretches
like some trim vessel
that rocking from side to side, plunges
its yards in the swell.

As when the groaning glacier’s thaw
fills the flowing stream,
so when your mouth’s juices pour
to the tip of your teeth,

I fancy I’m drinking overpowering, bitter,
Bohemian wine,
that over my heart will scatter
its stars, a liquid sky!

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