French Poem “Parfum Exotique” by Charles Baudelaire

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

I chose this poem quite simply because it is one of my favorites. Of course, like many French and Americans, I adore Baudelaire for his stylistic originality and his extreme sensitivity. I love this poem because it is simply beautiful, highly sensual, and surprisingly positive for a Baudelaire poem!

1 – Classical French Poem – French Poem “Parfum Exotique” by Charles Baudelaire

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’œil 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.

This poem is part of my “Easy French Poetry” audiobooks : enunciated and natural recordings of famous French poems + explanations in easy French + transcript with the English translation

Easy French Poetry

Most famous and classic French poems read and analysed in everyday French.

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2 – English Translation of the French Poem “Parfum Exotique” by Charles Baudelaire

Here is my own translation of the French poem. I went for a literal translation so you could understand the vocabulary.

When, with both my eyes closed, on a hot autumn night,
I inhale the fragrance of your welcoming breast
I see happy shores spread out before me,
Blazing in the flames or a monotonous sun;

A lazy isle to which nature has given
Singular trees, savory fruits,
Men whose bodies are vigorous and slender,
And women in whose eyes shines a surprising candor.

Guided by your fragrance to these charming climates,
I see a port filled with sails and masts
Still exhausted by the waves of the sea,

While the perfume of the green tamarinds,
That fills up the air, and widens my nostrils,
Mingles in my soul with the sailors’ songs.

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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