Cats on Tuesday: The Cat, Bewitching and Seraphic

Cats on Tuesday, with Poems from Charles Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal (1857-1868)


Both ardent lovers and austere scholars
Love in their mature years
The strong and gentle cats, pride of the house,
Who like them are sedentary and sensitive to cold.

Friends of learning and sensual pleasure,
They seek the silence and the horror of darkness;
Erebus would have used them as his gloomy steeds:
If their pride could let them stoop to bondage.

When they dream, they assume the noble attitudes
Of the mighty sphinxes stretched out in solitude,
Who seem to fall into a sleep of endless dreams;

Their fertile loins are full of magic sparks,
And particles of gold, like fine grains of sand,
Spangle dimly their mystic eyes.

-- Translated from the French by William Aggeler, 1954

The Cat


A fine strong gentle cat is prowling
As in his bedroom, in my brain;
So soft his voice, so smooth its strain,
That you can scarcely hear him miowling.

But should he venture to complain
Or scold, the voice is rich and deep:
And thus he manages to keep
The charm of his untroubled reign.

His voice can cure the direst pain
And it contains the rarest raptures.
The deepest meanings, which it captures,
It needs no language to explain.

There is no bow that can so sweep
That perfect instrument, my heart:
Or make more sumptuous music start
From its most vibrant cord and deep,

Than can the voice of this strange elf,
This cat, bewitching and seraphic,
Subtly harmonious in his traffic
With all things else, and with himself.

-- Translated by Roy Campbell, 1952

The Cat

Come, my fine cat, against my loving heart;
Sheathe your sharp claws, and settle.
And let my eyes into your pupils dart
Where agate sparks with metal.

Now while my fingertips caress at leisure
Your head and wiry curves,
And that my hand's elated with the pleasure
Of your electric nerves,

I think about my woman — how her glances
Like yours, dear beast, deep-down
And cold, can cut and wound one as with lances;

Then, too, she has that vagrant
And subtle air of danger that makes fragrant
Her body, lithe and brown.

-- Translated by Roy Campbell, 1952


katztales said...

Good poetry. I liked Tom Hughes' Esther's Tom Cat but it's still copyrighted to can't be reproduced.

Are there many dog poems?

Anya said...

What beautiful poemssssssssssssss , I'm just awake but I immediately got good sense by such beautiful poems.......... Thanks for sharing :)))))))))))

Gattina said...

I didn't know that Baudelaire had been translated into english ! That sounds so strange to me, lol ! All poems are so true about cats and your pictures are lovely !

Chris said...


srp said...

Lovely poems and such relaxed cats... reading the poetry and watching them sleep and lounge really calms the soul. Oh, that life could be this way for us.

Andrée said...

thank you for introducing me to a new poet. the poems are simply lovely. Your photos? Perfect illustrations.

Carrie K said...

I want to pick a favorite but no! impossible. Great poems.