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Thread: The cat (baudelaire)

  1. #1
    Registered User burntpunk's Avatar
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    The cat (baudelaire)

    boys and girls, i am reciting this poem for an event.
    what kind of tone would you suggest i opt for?

    The Cat (Baudelaire)

    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.
    “Ho, ho, ho! Well, if it isn’t fat stinking billy goat Billy Boy in poison! How art thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if ya have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou!”

    Alex deLarge, A Clockwork Orange

  2. #2
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Viens, mon beau chat, sur mon coeur amoureux;
    Retiens les griffes de ta patte,
    Et laisse-moi plonger dans tes beaux yeux,
    Mêlés de métal et d'agate.

    Lorsque mes doigts caressent à loisir
    Ta tête et ton dos élastique,
    Et que ma main s'enivre du plaisir
    De palper ton corps électrique,

    Je vois ma femme en esprit. Son regard,
    Comme le tien, aimable bête
    Profond et froid, coupe et fend comme un dard,

    Et, des pieds jusques à la tête,
    Un air subtil, un dangereux parfum
    Nagent autour de son corps brun.

    I don't like the translation, he's trying too hard to maintain a rhyme scheme at the expense of losing a lot of meaning. That last stanza comes off especially clumsy.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Literary Superstar Pryderi Agni's Avatar
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    Uh, answering the original question: You should try for a wistful, nostalgic tone, OK? As if you're remembering a girlfriend who hurt you in some way...

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    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pryderi Agni View Post
    Uh, answering the original question: You should try for a wistful, nostalgic tone, OK? As if you're remembering a girlfriend who hurt you in some way...
    Ha, yes well then I would recommend reciting it in French

    Seriously though, I would consider looking for another translation unless you're really attached to it. I agree that it should probably be read with a wistful tone at the beginning, except the last two stanzas should probably gain in intensity.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

  5. #5
    Literary Superstar Pryderi Agni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    I agree that it should probably be read with a wistful tone at the beginning, except the last two stanzas should probably gain in intensity.
    On the contrary. I think the last two paragraphs should be wistful--he's remembering her, right? The first two paragraphs should come up from behind, just like a cat does, you know? Then the pitch should rise, and he could launch into a wistful monologue in the last two paragraphs which speak of his GF.

  6. #6
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pryderi Agni View Post
    On the contrary. I think the last two paragraphs should be wistful--he's remembering her, right? The first two paragraphs should come up from behind, just like a cat does, you know? Then the pitch should rise, and he could launch into a wistful monologue in the last two paragraphs which speak of his GF.
    I think one of the problems with that reading is that in the French, Baudelaire writes "Lorsque mes doigts caressent à loisir". This means "when my fingers leisurely caress". The syntax is unclear whether he will be petting the cat in the present, as he is beckoning to the cat in the first stanza, or is he remembering/imagining what it is like when he pets the cat. I even find his beckoning to the cat a bit wistful.

    The reason I think the last two stanza should increase in intensity is the violent imagery. With the "lance" and "dangerous perfume". I think of someone remembering his lover's eyes as "cutting and wounding" as being more angry than wistful.
    Last edited by OrphanPip; 12-14-2009 at 01:21 PM.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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