The Head Of Hair

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

O fleece, billowing down to the shoulders!
O curls! O perfume charged with languor!
Ecstasy! To populate love’s dark alcove,
With memories sleeping tonight in your hair,
I’d wave it, like a handkerchief, in the air!

Languid Asia and burning Africa,
absent worlds, far-off, almost dead,
live in your forest-depths of aromas!
As music floats other spirits away,
mine, my love, sails your fragrance instead.

I’ll go where, full of sap, trees and men
Swoon endlessly in that ardent climate:
Thick tresses, be my tide! You contain,
O sea of ebony, the dazzling dream,
of masts, flames, sails, and oarsmen:

an echoing port where my soul’s a drinker
of sound, colour, scent in rolling waves:
where vessels, gliding through silk and amber,
open wide their arms to clasp the splendour
of a pure sky quivering with eternal day.

I’ll plunge my head, in love with drunkenness,
in this dark ocean which encloses the other:
and my subtle spirit the breakers caress
will know how to find you, fertile indolence!
Infinite lullaby, full of the balm of leisure!

Hair of blue, that hangs like a shadowy tent,
you bring me the round, immense sky’s azure:
in your plaited tresses’ feathery descent
I grow fervently drunk with the mingled scent
of coconut-oil, of musk, and coal-tar.

Now! Always! My hand in your heavy mane sowing
jewels, the sapphire, the pearl, and the ruby,
so that you’ll not remain deaf to my longing!
Oasis of dream, the gourd where I’m drinking,
of you, long draughts of the wine of memory?

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