A breath of wind from the wings of madness
“Common sense tells us that the things of the earth
exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams.”
“In my ruined heart your roaring wakens the same agony as in cathedrals when the organ moans and from the depths I hear that I am damned.”
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) stands out as one of literature’s “cursed poets.” His notorious book of poetry “Les Fleurs du Mal” (Flowers of Evil) was harshly censored upon publication & remained so until well after his death. Baudelaire, a man of many macabre interests, felt a special kinship with his contemporary Edgar Allen Poe & even considered himself to be Poe’s French counterpart. Baudelaire’s revolutionary views were quite the scandal of Paris in his time, but his poems would set the standard & transform how poetry was written in France. After Baudelaire’s death, a young Arthur Rimbaud said of him “He is the king of poetry!” Baudelaire was a Gothic soul & his words certainly deserve your extended consideration. Furthermore, for all you writers currently reading, take to heart Baudelaire’s advice: “Always be a poet, even in prose.”
The Voyage, pt. I
For the child, in love with globe, and stamps,
the universe equals his vast appetite.
Ah! How great the world is in the light of the lamps!
In the eyes of memory, how small and slight!
One morning we set out, minds filled with fire,
travel, following the rhythm of the seas,
hearts swollen with resentment, and bitter desire,
soothing, in the finite waves, our infinities:
Some happy to leave a land of infamies,
some the horrors of childhood, others whose doom,
is to drown in a woman’s eyes, their astrologies
the tyrannous Circe’s dangerous perfumes.
In order not to become wild beasts, they stun
themselves, with space and light, and skies of fire:
The ice that stings them, and the scorching sun,
slowly erase the marks of their desire.
But the true voyagers are those who leave
only to move: hearts like balloons, as light,
they never swerve from their destinies,
and, without knowing why, say, always: ‘Flight!’
Those whose desires take on cloud-likenesses,
who dream of vast sensualities, the same
way a conscript dreams of the guns, shifting vaguenesses,
that the human spirit cannot name.
Always be drunk.
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time’s horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
will answer you:
“Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!”