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TO A BROWN BEGGAR-MAID

Written by: Charles Baudelaire | Biography
 | Quotes (59) |
 WHITE maiden with the russet hair, 
Whose garments, through their holes, declare 
That poverty is part of you, 
And beauty too. 

To me, a sorry bard and mean, 
Your youthful beauty, frail and lean, 
With summer freckles here and there, 
Is sweet and fair. 

Your sabots tread the roads of chance, 
And not one queen of old romance 
Carried her velvet shoes and lace 
With half your grace. 

In place of tatters far too short 
Let the proud garments worn at Court 
Fall down with rustling fold and pleat 
About your feet; 

In place of stockings, worn and old, 
Let a keen dagger all of gold 
Gleam in your garter for the eyes 
Of rou?s wise; 

Let ribbons carelessly untied 
Reveal to us the radiant pride 
Of your white bosom purer far 
Than any star; 

Let your white arms uncovered shine, 
Polished and smooth and half divine; 
And let your elfish fingers chase 
With riotous grace 

The purest pearls that softly glow, 
The sweetest sonnets of Belleau, 
Offered by gallants ere they fight 
For your delight; 

And many fawning rhymers who 
Inscribe their first thin book to you 
Will contemplate upon the stair 
Your slipper fair; 

And many a page who plays at cards, 
And many lords and many bards, 
Will watch your going forth, and burn 
For your return; 

And you will count before your glass 
More kisses than the lily has; 
And more than one Valois will sigh 
When you pass by. 

But meanwhile you are on the tramp, 
Begging your living in the damp, 
Wandering mean streets and alley's o'er, 
From door to door; 

And shilling bangles in a shop 
Cause you with eager eyes to stop, 
And I, alas, have not a sou 
To give to you. 

Then go, with no more ornament, 
Pearl, diamond, or subtle scent, 
Than your own fragile naked grace 
And lovely face.



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