Le Balcon

Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses
All of my pleasures and all of my cares!
You will recall the beauty of caresses,
The sweetness of the hearth and the charm of the evening
Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses.

Those evenings lit by the glow of the coals,
Those evenings on the balcony veiled in pink mists.
How sweet your breast! How kind was your heart!
How often we said things we will never forget,
Those evenings lit by the glow of the coals.

How beautiful the sun on those warm summer evenings!
How vast then is space! How powerful the heart!
In leaning toward you, queen of the adored,
I felt I was breathing the scent of your blood.
How beautiful the sun on those warm summer evenings!

The nights would grow as thick as the partition wall
And my eyes in the dark would seek out your eyes,
And I drank in your breath, o sweetness, o poison!
And your feet fell asleep in my brotherly hands.
The nights would grow as thick as the partition wall.

I know how to call up the moments of joy,
See my past once again nestled in your knees.
Where should one look for your languorous beauty
If not in your dear body and in your sweet heart?
I know how to call up the moments of joy.

Those vows, those perfumes, those infinite kisses,
Will they rise yet again from a gulf none may measure?
As the rejuvenated sun rises again to the heavens
After being washed in the depths of the deep seas?
— O vows! O perfumes! O infinite kisses!

 

(Charles Baudelaire, trans. Cat Nilan)

(Also, an explanation of the title)

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Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.