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Dear indolent, I love to see,
in your body bright,
How like shimmering silk the skin
Reflects the light!
When you walk in rhythm, lovely
With abandonment,
You seem to be swayed by a wand,
A dancing serpent.

Que j’aime voir, chère indolente,
De ton corps si beau,
Comme une étoffe vacillante,
Miroiter la peau!
À te voir marcher en cadence,
Belle d’abandon,
On dirait un serpent qui danse
Au bout d’un bâton.

Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) French poet, essayist, art critic
Les Fleurs du Mal [The Flowers of Evil], Part 1, #29 “Le Serpent qui danse [The Dancing Serpent],” st. 1, 5 (1857) [tr. Gibbs (1947)]

These phrases use very similar imagery to the previous poem in the collection. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

I love to watch, while you are lazing,
Your skin. It iridesces
Like silk or satin, smoothly-glazing
The light that it caresses.
To see you rhythmically advancing
Seems to my fancy fond
As if it were a serpent dancing
Waved by the charmer’s wand.
[tr. Campbell (1952), #28 "The Snake That Dances"]

Indolent darling, how I love
To see the skin
Of your body so beautiful
Shimmer like silk!
To see you walking in cadence
With fine abandon,
One would say a snake which dances
On the end of a staff.
[tr. Aggeler (1954) "The Dancing Serpent"]

Indolent love, with what delight
I watch the tawny flesh
Of your sweet body shimmer bright
As a bright silken mesh.
Your sinuous cadenced walk enhancing
Your slim proud gait, a frond
Swaying, you are, or a snake dancing
Atop a fakir's wand.
[tr. LeClercq (1958) "Dancing Serpent"]

How I love to watch, dear indolent creature,
The skin of your so
Beautiful body glisten, like some
Quivering material!
Seeing your harmonious walk,
Abandoned beauty,
One would say a snake was dancing
At the end of a stick.
[tr. Wagner (1974) "The Dancing Serpent"]

Dear indolent! I love to see
with every move you make
the iridescence of your skin
gleam like watered silk.
And when you walk to cadences
of sinuous nonchalance,
it looks as if a serpent danced
in rhythm to a wand.
[tr. Howard (1982) "As If A Serpent Danced"]

How I adore, dear indolent,
Your lovely body, when
Like silken cloth it shimmers --
Your sleek and glimmering skin!
Viewing the rhythm of your walk,
Beautifully dissolute,
One seems to see a serpent dance
Before a wand and flute.
[tr. McGowan (1993), "The Dancing Serpent"]

How love to look, dear indolent one, at your beautiful body and see, like a shot silk, the changing gleam of your skin! [...]
Seeing your rhythmic walk, beautiful in its abandon, one thinks of a serpent dancing at the head of a stick.
[tr. Clark (1995), #18 "The Dancing Serpent"]

How I love, dear lazybones, to see how the skin of your beautiful body sparkles like cloth billowing [...]
To see you walk in cadence, fair unconstrained, brings to mind a serpent dancing at the prodding of a stick.
[tr. Waldrop (2006), "Dancing Serpent"]

Added on 10-Feb-22 | Last updated 10-Feb-22
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Adam was but human — this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 2 (1894)
Added on 3-Sep-14 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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