The Cat

A poem by Charles Baudelaire


A cat is strolling through my mind
Acting as though he owned the place,
A lovely cat-strong, charming, sweet.
When he meows, one scarcely hears,

So tender and discreet his tone;
But whether he should growl or purr
His voice is always rich and deep.
That is the secret of his charm.

This purling voice that filters down
Into my darkest depths of soul
Fulfils me like a balanced verse,
Delights me as a potion would.

It puts to sleep the cruellest ills
And keeps a rein on ecstasies
Without the need for any words
It can pronounce the longest phrase.

Oh no, there is no bow that draws
Across my heart, fine instrument,
And makes to sing so royally
The strongest and the purest chord,

More than your voice, mysterious cat,
Exotic cat, seraphic cat,
In whom all is, angelically,
As subtle as harmonious.


From his soft fur, golden and brown,
Goes out so sweet a scent, one night
I might have been embalmed in it
By giving him one little pet.

He is my household's guardian soul;
He judges, he presides, inspires
All matters in his royal realm;
Might he be fairy? or a god?

When my eyes, to this cat I love
Drawn as by a magnet's force,
Turn tamely back from that appeal,
And when I look within myself,

I notice with astonishment
The fire of his opal eyes,
Clear beacons glowing, living jewels,
Taking my measure, steadily.

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