The Dog and the Perfume

The Dog and the Perfume

(“Le Chien et le flacon," from Les Petis poèmes en prose)

~~by Charles Baudelaire

 ~~Translated by Kent H. Dixon

"My good dog, my handsome dog, my dear poochie-woochie, come sit by me. Come here and breathe this excellent perfume purchased of the best parfumeur in town."

And the dog, wagging its tail, a sign I believe among higher mammals corresponding with the laugh, or the smile, he steps right up and lays his damp nose curiously beside the open bottle of perfume; then, shrinking suddenly with fright, he bays at me.

This is a reproach.

"Ah! miserable dog, if I had offered you a sack of dung you would have sniffed it with delight, and probably eaten it. Thus, you, unworthy companion of my sorry life, in this you resemble the public, to whom one must never offer delicate perfumes—these will just exasperate them. For them, only the most meticulously selected, the most deliciously odiferous shit.