Quand, les deux yeux fermes, en un soir chaud d’automne

Today’s poem, by Charles Baudelaire, in my mind is a close companion of his poem “A une Dame Creole”, included in the same original collection and posted on this blog on October 8th. Both are inspired by his relationship with a girl from a tropical island, and both evoke the sensuous associations aroused by his love.

Parfum exotique

Quand, les deux yeux fermés, en un soir chaud d’automne,
Je respire l’odeur de ton sein chaleureux,
Je vois se dérouler des rivages heureux
Qu’éblouissent les feux d’un soleil monotone;

Une île paresseuse où la nature donne
Des arbres singuliers et des fruits savoureux;
Des hommes dont le corps est mince et vigoureux,
Et des femmes dont l’oeil par sa franchise étonne.

Guidé par ton odeur vers de charmants climats,
Je vois un port rempli de voiles et de mâts
Encor tout fatigués par la vague marine,

Pendant que le parfum des verts tamariniers,
Qui circule dans l’air et m’enfle la narine,
Se mêle dans mon âme au chant des mariniers.

— Charles Baudelaire
From <http://fleursdumal.org/poem/120&gt;


The poet closes his eyes on a warm autumn evening and breathes in the scent from his lover’s body. The associations immediately take him back to the tropical island where he met her, its smells, sights and sounds, from the trees and exotic fruits, to the impressive, beautiful and confident men and women of the islands, to the ships in port and the sailor’s shouts. The power of association through the senses transports the poet into another world; and from there it inspires these great poems.

These two poems are very close to me, having fallen in love with and married a girl from an Indian ocean island very much like that described by Baudelaire. And I have experienced the same sights, sounds and smells which jump off the page in this poem.

Pass the coconut…
The Poetry Dude


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