Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Drunken Poet

Charles Baudelaire

"An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportion."  - Charles Baudelaire


In the 1860s Baudelaire wrote articles and essays on a wide range of subjects and figures. He was also publishing prose poems, which were posthumously collected in 1869 as Petits poémes en prose (Little Poems in Prose). By calling these non-metrical compositions poems, Baudelaire was the first poet to make a radical break with the form of verse.


In 1862, Baudelaire began to suffer nightmares and increasingly bad health. He left Paris for Brussels in 1863 to give a series of lectures, but suffered from several strokes that resulted in partial paralysis. On August 31, 1867, at the age of forty-six, Charles Baudelaire died in Paris. Although doctors at the time didn't mention it, it is likely that syphilis caused his final illness. His reputation as poet at that time was secure; writers such as Stephane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud claimed him as a predecessor. In the 20th century, thinkers and artists as diverse as Jean-Paul Sartre, Walter Benjamin, Robert Lowell and Seamus Heaney have celebrated his work.


You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it—it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk. But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk. And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. Ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: It is the hour to be drunken! to escape being the martyred slaves of time, be ceaselessly drunk. On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.
—“Be Drunk,” by Charles Baudelaire

2 comments:

parrish lantern said...

loving this & will share another.
THE OUTSIDER.

-Now tell me whom do you love most, mysterious fellow, mother, sister, or brother?
-I have neither father nor mother, sister nor brother.
-And your friends?
-You use a term I have never known the meaning of, so far.
-Your homeland?
-I have no idea where that can be.
-Beauty?
-I'd be glad to love that, if it were a goddess and immortal.
-Gold?
-I hate that as much as you hate God.
-What do you love then, strangest of strangers?
-I love the clouds, clouds that go passing over, far away....yonder
...the marvellous clouds.

James said...

Thanks for the contribution.