The Cat

Original Text: 

Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, ed. Josef Nygrin, trans. William Aggeler (1954), Roy Campbell (1952), Cat Nilan (1999), Geoffrey Wagner (1974), Kenneth O. Hanson (1955), and David Paul (1955). Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Licence, 2008. 162-63.

I
1In my brain there walks about,
2As though he were in his own home,
3A lovely cat, strong, sweet, charming.
4When he mews, one scarcely hears him,
5His tone is so discreet and soft;
6But purring or growling, his voice
7Is always deep and rich;
8That is his charm and secret.
9That voice forms into drops, trickles
10Into the depths of my being,
11Fills me like harmonious verse
12And gladdens me like a philtre.
13It lulls to sleep the sharpest pains,
14Contains all ecstasies;
15To say the longest sentences,
16It has no need of words,
17No, there's no bow that plays upon
18My heart, that perfect instrument,
19And makes its most vibrant chord
20Sing more gloriously
21Than your voice, mysterious cat,
22Seraphic cat, singular cat,
23In whom, as in angels, all is
24As subtle as harmonious!
II
25From his brown and yellow fur
26Comes such sweet fragrance that one night
27I was perfumed with it because
28I caressed him once, once only.
29A familiar figure in the place,
30He presides, judges, inspires
31Everything within his province;
32Perhaps he is a fay, a god?
33When my gaze, drawn as by a magnet,
34Turns in a docile way
35Toward that cat whom I love,
36And when I look within myself,
37I see with amazement
38The fire of his pale pupils,
39Clear signal-lights, living opals,
40That contemplate me fixedly.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: