— charles baudelaire
— footnote to ‘One a.m.’, poem in prose 10 from baudelaire’s ‘paris spleen’
Dancing is poetry with arms and legs. -Charles Baudelaire
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Dancing Couple (1914)
— Charles Baudelaire
Carlos Schwabe, Femmes Damnees
O virgins, O demons, O monsters, O martyrs,
Great spirits, contemptuous of reality,
Seekers of the infinite, pious and satyric,
Sometimes full of cries, sometimes full of tears,
You whom my spirit has followed into your hell,
Poor sisters, I love you as much as I pity you,
For your gloomy sorrows, your unsatisfied thirsts,
And the urns of love with which your great hearts are filled!
Charles Baudelaire (translation by William Aggeler) The Flowers of Evil
Ed. Moorthamers, Bruxelles (1927)
Swinburne’s 1862 translation of poems from Les Fleurs du mal in large part produces what Gilman terms the “emotional and melodramatic side of Baudelaire’s effect on English sensibility.”
James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Three Figures: Pink and Grey 1868-78
I am fair, O mortals! like a dream carved in stone,
And my breast where each one in turn has bruised himself
Is made to inspire in the poet a love
As eternal and silent as matter.
On a throne in the sky, a mysterious sphinx,
I join a heart of snow to the whiteness of swans;
I hate movement for it displaces lines,
And never do I weep and never do I laugh.
Poets, before my grandiose poses,
Which I seem to assume from the proudest statues,
Will consume their lives in austere study;
For I have, to enchant those submissive lovers,
Pure mirrors that make all things more beautiful:
My eyes, my large, wide eyes of eternal brightness!
— Charles Baudelaire
Oh woolly fleece, curling all the way down to your shoulders!Oh ringlets! Oh perfume imbued with nonchalance!
Ecstasy! In order to populate our dim retreat this evening
With the memories slumbering in your hair,
I would like to wave it like a handkerchief in the air!
Languid Asia and burning Africa,
An entire distant world, absent, almost dying,
Lives in your depths, aromatic forest!
As other spirits sail upon music,
Mine, oh my love! swims in your perfume.
I will go down there, where trees and men, full of sap,
Long swoon under the heat of the climate;
Powerful tresses, be the surging wave that carries me off!
You hold, sea of ebony, a dazzling dream
Of sails, of oarsmen, of pennants and masts:
A sonorous port where my soul can drink in
Great torrents of perfume, sound and color;
Where ships, gliding through gold and shimmering silk
Open their vast arms to embrace the glory
Of a pure sky in which eternal warmth trembles.
I will plunge my head, amorous of drunkenness,
Into that black ocean that contains the other ocean;
And my cunning spirit, caressed by the rolling waves,
Will again find you, oh fecund indolence,
Infinite rocking in the cradle of perfumed leisure!
Blue tresses, tent pitched from shadows,
You render the azure sky immense and round;
On the downy edges of your twisted locks
I am ardently intoxicated by the mingled scents
Of coconut oil, musk, and pine-tar.
For a long time! Forever! my hand will strew
Rubies, pearls, and sapphires in your heavy mane
So that you will never be deaf to my desires!
Are you not the oasis of which I dream, and the flask
From which I eagerly drink long draughts of the wine of memory?
-Charles Baudelaire, Spleen and Ideal
To paraphrase Charles Baudelaire who paraphrases Stendhal, “the beautiful is neither more nor less than the promise of happiness.”
I am beautiful, o mortals, a dream of stone.
And my breast, where each one is wounded,
turn by turn,
Inspires the poets to a love
Eternal and mute, like an inanimate existence.
I throne in azure, like a mysterious sphinx,
I have a heart of snow, as white as swans,
I hate movement, it displaces the lines
I never cry and I never laugh.
The poets, in front of my grand poses
Borrowed from proud statues,
Exhaust their days in austere studies.
I must fascinate these docile lovers.
Pure mirrors which make all things more
My exes, my large exes with the clarity of