With waving opalescence in her gown,
Even when she walks along, you think she’s dancing.
Like those long snakes which charmers, while entrancing,
Wave with their wands, in cadence, up and down.

[Avec ses vêtements ondoyants et nacrés,
Même quand elle marche on croirait qu’elle danse,
Comme ces longs serpents que les jongleurs sacrés
Au bout de leurs bâtons agitent en cadence.]

Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) French poet, essayist, art critic
Les Fleurs du Mal [The Flowers of Evil], Part 1, #28 “Avec ses vêtements ondoyants et nacrés,” st. 1 (1857) [tr. Campbell (1952)]

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Robed in a silken robe that shines and shakes,
She seems to dance whenever she treads the sod,
Like the long serpent that a fakir makes
Dance to the waving cadence of a rod.
[tr. Sturm (1905)]

With pearly robes that wave within the wind,
Even when she walks, she seems to dance,
Like swaying serpents round those wands entwined
Which fakirs wave in rhythmic elegance.
[tr. Scott (1909)]

with all her undulant pearly draperies,
she moves in measures lovelier than a dance,
as in the fakirs' Indian sorceries
tall cobras 'neath a moving rod advance
[tr. Shanks (1931)]

With her pearly, undulating dresses,
Even when she's walking, she seems to be dancing
Like those long snakes which the holy fakirs
Set swaying in cadence on the end of their staffs.
[tr. Aggeler (1954)]

With her dresses undulating, pearly,
Even walking one would think her dancing,
Like those long serpents which holy charmers
Move in harmony at the tips of their batons.
[tr. Wagner (1974)]

Even when she walks she seems to dance!
Her garments writhe and glisten like long snakes
obedient to the rhythm of the wands
by which a fakir wakens them to grace.
[tr. Howard (1982)]

With her undulating, iridescent clothes, even when she walks you would think she is dancing, like those long snakes that sacred jugglers shake rhythmically on the ends of their sticks.
[tr. Clark (1995), #17]

She doesn’t walk; she rather dances through salons
Within her buoyant gowns of glittering, silver nacre,
Curling like the snake of a turbaned Hindu fakir,
Unrolled from in between his undulant batons.
[tr. Eriksson]

Even when she walks one would believe that she dances.
[Common rendering]

Added on 31-Jan-22 | Last updated 31-Jan-22
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