The Jewels

A poem by Charles Baudelaire

My sweetheart was naked, knowing my desire,
she wore only her tinkling jewellery,
whose splendour yields her the rich conquering fire
of Moorish slave-girls in the days of their beauty.

When, dancing, it gives out its sharp sound of mockery,
that glistening world of metal and stone,
I am ravished by ecstasy, love like fury
those things where light mingles with sound.

So she lay there, let herself be loved,
and, from the tall bed, she smiled with delight
on my love deep and sweet as the sea is moved,
rising to her as toward a cliff’s height.

Like a tamed tigress, her eyes fixed on me
with a vague dreamy air, she tried out her poses,
so wantonly and so innocently,
it gave a new charm to her metamorphoses:

and her arm and her leg, and her back and her thigh,
shining like oil, undulating like a swan’s,
passed in front of my calm, clairvoyant eye:
and her belly and breasts, those vine-clustered ones,

thrust out, more seductively than Angels of evil,
to trouble the repose where my soul had its throne,
and topple it from the crystal hill,
where it was seated, calm and alone.

I thought I saw Antiope’s hips placed
on a youth’s bust, with a new design’s grace,
her pelvis accentuated so by her waist.
The rouge was superb on that wild, tawny face!

And the lamp resigning itself to dying,
as only the fire in the hearth lit the chamber,
each time it gave out a flame in sighing,
it flooded with blood that skin of amber!

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