To A Red-Haired Beggar Girl

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

Pale girl with russet hair,
Tatters in what you wear
Show us your poverty
And your beauty,

For me, poor poet, in
The frail and freckled skin
Of your young flesh
Is a sweetness.

You move in shoes of wood
More gallantly than could
A velvet-buskined Queen
Playing a scene;

In place of rags for clothes
Let a majestic robe
Trail in its bustling pleats
Down to your feet;

Behind the holes in seams
Let a gold dagger gleam
Laid for the roue's eye
Along your thigh;

Let loosened ribbons, then,
Unveil us for our sins
Two breasts as undisguised
And bright as eyes;

As for your other charms,
Let your resistant arms
Frustrate with saucy blows
The groping rogues;

Pearls of a lustrous glow,
Sonnets penned by Belleau,
Suitors at your command
Constantly send,

Menial rhymsters, too,
Dedicate works to you;
Seeing your slipper there
Under the stair,

Pages and noble lords,
Would-be Ronsards galore,
Spy for the secret sweets
Of your retreat!

Lilies, in your alcove,
Count less than making love
You'd hold to lovers' law
Several Valois'

- Meanwhile, you beg to eat
Stale bread and tainted meat
Thrown from an alley door
Backstreet Vefour

And covet secretly
The cheapest jewellery
Which I (forgive me!) can't
Place in your hand.

Go then, a starveling girl
With no perfume or pearls,
Only your nudity
O my beauty!

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