The Cat (Baudelaire translation)


Just see her padding through my brain,
As if it were her furnished flat:
This frisky, fascinating Cat!
Were she to mew, the low-pitched strain

Of her voice, softer than softest sighs,
Would scarce be audible; but her
Purr’s the thing, her husky purr—
Her purr, that’s where her secret lies!

Her velvet voice, it filters down
Into the darkrooms of my mind;
It thrills me like a poetry line
Or liqueur that I love to drain.

It soothes my sorrows and it lulls
My soul to sleep with ecstasy.
To say the thing it wants to say,
It has no need for words at all.

My heart’s the perfect instrument
For her to play soft music on.
Her rich and vibrant undertone,
Her royal purr’s my ravishment.

The sound you make, mysterious Cat—
O noble Cat so strange of mood!—
Cat in whose breast dark angels brood!—
I’ve never heard a note like that!


From her proud pelt all goldenbrown
So sweet a fragrance flows, its balm
Soaks through me as I run my palm
Once up her silken flank, and down.

Familiar spirit at my side!—
Presiding judge and inspiration!—
Queen of delicious domination!—
Are you a goddess in disguise?

Now when my eyes draw back again,
Back from this kitty I adore,
To look within myself and pore
Upon the map of my own brain,

I look and see with wild surprise
Flash back at me from lucent pools
Two blazing lamps, two burning jewels—
The fire opals of her eyes!

The Cat: Baudelaire

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