To a Girl of Malabar
Your feet, fine as your hands, your large hips too
Make European beauties envy you;
The artist finds your body sweet and fresh;
Your velvet eyes are darker than your flesh.
Here in your blue and sultry native land
To light your master's pipe with gentle hand,
To serve fresh water in its scented flasks
And chase away mosquitoes are your tasks;
When morning makes the plane-trees sing, you are
To buy fresh pineapples at the bazaar;
You may direct your bare feet all day long
At will, and trill some half-forgotten song;
And when the sun in scarlet mantle sets,
You sweetly pose your body for its rest,
Where all your dreams are full of hummingbirds,
And gracious, like yourself, beyond all words.
a happy child, why do you want to see
Our France, a country reaped by misery,
And, subject to the seas' capricious winds,
To make goodbyes to dear old tamarinds?
There in your filmy muslin as you go
To freeze in France beneath the hail and snow,
How you will cry, regretful of the trip,
If, in the brutal corset's crushing grip,
You have to sell your beauty in the street,
Out of this muck to glean some food to eat,
While through our filthy mists your vision sees
The phantom spars of absent coco-trees.
Přeložil James McGowan