The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Flowers of Evil, by Charles Baudelaire This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no. Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. For your reading pleasure, I bring you a complete French-English edition of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal / Flowers of Evil as a PDF.
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Download The Flowers of Evil free in PDF & EPUB format. Download Charles Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil for your kindle, tablet, IPAD, PC. Les Fleurs de Mal (The flowers of evil). Some of this reputation is justified; the poet did intend to shock, and he displayed in painfully vivid scenes his own spiri-. BAUDELAIRE THE FLOWERS OF EVIL By the same Author THE SHADOWS OF SILENCE AND THE SONGS OF YESTERDAY THE GRAVE OF EROS, AND.
The tables at the inns where gamesmen sport Are full of swindlers, sluts, and all their sort. Robbers who show no pity to their prey Get ready for their nightly work-a-day Of cracking safes and deftly forcing doors, To live a few days more and dress their whores. This poetry creates a level of event at which personifications, such as Prostitution, can act along with the demons and the robbers, swindlers, beggars, and other urban types.
The low-life figures who parade through the Parisian scenessinister old men, broken-down old women, gamblers, criminals, and prostitutesarc figures as much imagined as observed, like the seven appalling and identical creatures of 'The Seven Old Men' who, appearing one after another before the speaker, threaten his sanity and cast him loose like a mast- less ship on a monstrous sea. Some of Baudelaire's greatest poems'The Swan', 'The Little Old Women', 'The Seven Old Men'belong to 'Parisian Scenes', but as their narrators wander through the 'sinuous coils of the old capitals', the encounters with these grotesque figures become above all struggles over meaning, attempts to understand their mystery.
These struggles can produce pleasurethe satisfication of empathy in 'The Little Old Women'or melancholy at the oppressiveness of the inter- pretive process: Paris may change, but in my melancholy mood Nothing has budged! New palaces, blocks, scaffoldings, Old neighbourhoods, are allegorical for me And my dear memories are heavier than stone.
But Victor Hugo had written poems of the cityabout beggars, prostitutes, and working men, among othersand Baudelaire declared Hugo 'the most gifted, the most visibly elected to express through poetry what I will call the mystery of life'.
What was different about Baudelaire's poetry? The repudiation of sentimental themes is a major aspect of Baudelaire's modernity. Baudelaire complained about Hugo's prostitutes with hearts of gold and criminals with consciences, and proposed to write a story of an unrepentant criminal en- joying the fruits of his crimes. Hugo wrote a poem called 'Never Insult a Woman who is Falling', but Baudelaire always insults, while lamenting and celebrating at the same time.
His 'Little Old Women' are 'singular beings with appalling charms': These dislocated wrecks were women once. They toddle, every bit like marionettes, Or drag themselves like wounded animals. They 'trudge on, stoic, without complaint, Through the chaotic city's teeming waste', and the poet who follows them, as other men would follow a beautiful young woman, observes 'with tenderness, and restless eye intent', imaginatively sharing their 'lost days', their secret pleasures and fears.
They are 'Ruins! As in the poems about lesbians and about heterosexual love, the harshness and shifts of mood give this verse what seems a modern complexity. These changes of tone are part of the irony and self- consciousness that mark Baudelaire's verse, where the speakers often turn and reflect upon what they have been saying or doing and its implications.
She's in my voice, in all I do! Her poison flows in all my veins!
The irony described here is inseparable from a process of poetic self-dramatization: the rhetorical resources of the poetic imagination become a source of self-torture as well as of perverse satisfaction. Less extreme and grandiloquent, and perhaps the more sinister, is the movement of 'Gaming', which begins with the description of decrepit gamblers and prostitutes in a shabby gaming house.
This turns out to be a dream or vision of the speaker, in which he sees himself mutely envying 'these men's tenacious lust, The morbid gaiety of these old whores'. Reflecting on the implications of this vision, though, he is frightened that he should envy 'this poor lot Who rush so fervently to the abyss'.
It is indeed a peculiar condition, of the sort these poems excel in portraying. When the focus of interest in the poem is not objects and events themselves but the speaker's relation to them and his responses to this relation, then we have dramas of conscious- ness which readers and critics have found particularly modern. The poem begins: iMore memories than if I'd lived a thousand years! A giant chest of drawers, stuffed to the full, With balance sheets, love letters, lawsuits, verse Romances, locks of hair rolled in receipts, Hides fewer secrets than my sullen skull.
It is a pyramid, a giant vault, Holding more corpses than a common grave.
I am a graveyard hated by the moon Where like remorse the long worms crawl, and turn Attention to the dearest of my dead. What could be thought of as a wealth of memories is experi- enced as excessive or oppressive, unmasterable as the experience of a subject. The imaginative operations of an ironic, self- reflective consciousness transform this heterogeneous series of writings and documents into so much dead matter: first more corpses than the common grave, and then, in an image which one contemporary reviewer quoted as summing up The Flowers of Evil, 'a graveyard hated by the moon'.
As the accumulated memories become dead matter, ennui takes on immortal proportions. Ennui is the force of boredom and depression that 'To the Reader' calls the ugliest, meannest, most obscene monster in the human zoo. The self, further depersonalized and addressed just as 'living matter' matire vivante , is identified with a granite monument forgotten in the desert. I lenceforth, o living flesh, you are no more!
You are of granite, wrapped in a vague dread, Slumbering in some Sahara's hazy sands, An ancient sphinx lost to a careless world, Forgotten on the map, whose haughty mood Sings only in the glow of setting sun. The very hyperbole of the imagesa graveyard hated by the moon, a piece of granite wrapped in a vague dreadsuggests that we are dealing not with empirical incidents or predicaments but with the drama of a generalized modern consciousness.
The poem's emphatic denial that any of the experiences or memories are themselves of interest leaves the impression that any value must lie in the operations of consciousness themselves, such as memory, revulsion, or self- criticism. Such operations of consciousness, this poetry shows, can even give an interest and value to the most horrendous conditionssuch as being more full of dead bodies than a common grave. The perverse pleasure that the modern subject dramatized in the poem takes in representing itself as a for- gotten sphinx grumpily singing in the desert suggests that there are ways of surviving the disintegration and depcrsonalization of the self described here, that whatever the modern threats to the self, a certain poetic consciousness can salvage at least itself from the collapse of signification and value, and that, thus, the subject remains the source of meaning and untranscendable horizon.
If Baudelaire is seen as the prophet of modernity, it is no doubt because his lyrics can be read as asking how one can experience or come to terms with the modern world and as offering poetic consciousness as a solutionalbeit a desperate one, requiring a passage through negativity. Baudelaire's irony often works in a different way, without involving the dramatization of the ironic attitude of a speaker. Frequently, for example, irony results from readers' perceptions of dis- crepancies between poems: it is not so much that a speaker is being ironic as that the formulations of one poem undercut or ironically frame those of another.
In a prose poem, Baudelaire writes ironically of the poet losing his halo as he dashes across a muddy street and deciding not to advertise for its returna more modern attitude, no doubt. Alerted by this text and by the self-consciousness of others, one can notice odd things about 'Benediction': while the poet of 'To the Reader' claimed, in a convincing conclusion, to be the twin of or brother to the hypocrite reader, the poet described in the very next poem, 'Benediction', has no relation to earthly readers.
A parody of the visionary poet, he pays no attention to what happens around him and nothing earthly is good enough for him. The blinding light of his majestic intellect, we are told, blots out the sight of angry mortals, such as his wife and mother. This poet, one realizes, could not have written this poem, much of whose energy comes from its representation of the fury and plottings of mother and wife; therefore, one can scarcely accept as gospel the poem's account of the poet.
O mystic metamorphosis Of all my senses blent in one! Her voice a beauteous perfume is, Her breath makes music, chaste and wan. To her, with pride we chant an echoing Hymn, For nought can touch the sweetness of her sway ; Her flesh ethereal as the seraphim, Her eyes with robe of light our souls array. And be it in the night, or solitude, Among the streets or 'mid the multitude, Her shadow, torch-like, dances in the air, And murmurs, " I, the Beautiful proclaim That for my sake, alone ye love the Fair ; I am the Guardian Angel, Muse and Dame!
From all transgressions, from all snares, they save, Towards the Path of Joy they guide my ways ; They are my servants, and I am their slave ; And all my soul, this living torch obeys. Ye charming Eyes ye have those mystic beams, Of candles, burning in full day ; the sun Awakes, yet kills not their fantastic gleams: Ye sing the Awak'ning, they the dark oblivion ; The Awak'ning of my spirit ye proclaim, O stars no sun can ever kill your flame! The Spiritual Dawn When the morning white and rosy breaks, With the gnawing Ideal, upon the debauchee, By the power of a strange decree, Within the sotted beast an Angel wakes.
The mental Heaven's inaccessible blue, For wearied mortals that still dream and mourn, Expands and sinks ; towards the chasm drawn. Thus, cherished goddess, Being pure and true Upon the rests of foolish orgy-nights Thine image, more sublime, more pink, more clear, Before my staring eyes is ever there. The sun has darkened all the candle lights ; And thus thy spectre like the immortal sun, Is ever victorious thou resplendent one!
Evening Harmony The hour approacheth, when, as their stems incline, The flowers evaporate like an incense urn, And sounds and scents in the vesper breezes turn ; A melancholy waltz and a drowsiness divine.
The flowers evaporate like an incense urn, The viol vibrates like the wailing of souls that repine. A melancholy waltz and a drowsiness divine, The skies like a mosque are beautiful and stern. The viol vibrates like the wailing of souls that repine ; Sweet souls that shrink from chaos vast and etern, The skies like a mosque are beautiful and stern, The sunset drowns within its blood-red brine. Sweet souls that shrink from chaos vast and etern, Essay the wreaths of their faded Past to entwine, The sunset drowns within its blood-red brine, Thy thought within me glows like an incense urn.
Thou recallest those white days with shadows caressed, Engendering tears from th' enraptured breast, When racked by an anguish unfathomed that weeps, The nerves, too awake, jibe the spirit that sleeps. At times thou art like those horizons divine, Where the suns of the nebulous seasons decline ; How resplendent art thou O pasturage vast, Illumed by the beams of a sky overcast! As well, will I love both thy snow and thy rime, And shall I know how from the frosts to entice Delights that are keener than iron and ice?
Down yonder to fly To love, till we die, In the land which resembles thee.
Those suns that rise 'Neath erratic skies, No charm could be like unto theirs So strange and divine, Like those eyes of thine Which glow in the midst of their tears. There, all is order and loveliness, Luxury, calm and voluptuousness. The tables and chairs, Polished bright by the years, Would decorate sweetly our rooms, And the rarest of flowers Would twine round our bowers And mingle their amber perfumes:. In the harbours, peep, At the vessels asleep Their humour is always to roam , Yet it is but to grant Thy smallest want From the ends of the earth that they come, The sunsets beam Upon meadow and stream, And upon the city entire 'Neath a violet crest, The world sinks to rest, Illumed by a golden fire.
Sisina Imagine Diana in gorgeous array, How into the forests and thickets she flies, With her hair in the breezes, and flushed for the fray, How the very best riders she proudly defies.
Have you seen Theroigne, of the blood-thirsty heart, As an unshod herd to attack he bestirs, With cheeks all inflamed, playing up to his part, As he goes, sword in hand, up the royal stairs?
And so is Sisina yet this warrior sweet, Has a soul with compassion and kindness replete, Inspired by drums and by powder, her sway Knows how to concede to the supplicants' prayers, And her bosom, laid waste by the flames, has alway, For those that are worthy, a fountain of tears.
Her tint, pale and warm this bewitching bride, Displays a nobly nurtured mien, Courageous and grand like a huntsman, her stride ; A tranquil smile and eyes serene.
If, madam, you'd go to the true land of gain, By the banks of the verdant Loire or the Seine, How worthy to garnish some pile of renown. You'd awake in the calm of some shadowy nest, A thousand songs in the poet's breast, That your eyes would inspire far more than your brown.
Far from the city impure and the lowering sea, To another ocean that blinds with its dazzling array, So blue and so clear and profound, like virginity? Oh, Agatha, tell!
The sea, the vast ocean our travail and trouble consoles! Oh, carry me, waggons, oh, sailing-ships, help me depart! Far, far, here the dust is quite wet with our showering tears, Oh, say!
How distant you seem to be, perfumed Elysian fields! Wherein there is nothing but sunshine and love and glee ; Where all that one loves is so worthy, and lovingly yields, And our hearts float about in the purest of ecstasy, How distant you seem to be, perfumed Elysian fields!
But the green paradise of those transient infantile loves, The strolls, and the songs, and the kisses, and bunches of flowers, The viols vibrating beyond, in the mountainous groves, With the chalice of wine and the evening, entwined, in the bowers, But the green paradise of those transient infantile loves. That innocent heaven o'erflowing with furtive delight, Than China or India, is it still further away? Or, could one with pityful prayers bring it back to our sight? Or yet with a silvery voice o'er the ages convey That innocent heaven o'erflowing with furtive delight!
And when the livid morning falls, Thou'lt find alone the empty walls, And till the evening, cold 'twill be. As others with their tenderness, Upon thy life and youthfulness, I'll reign alone with dread o'er thee. I abominate passion and wit makes me ill. So let us love gently. Within his retreat, Foreboding, Love seeks for his arrows a prey, I know all the arms of his battle array.
Delirium and loathing O pale Marguerite! Like me, art thou not an autumnal ray, Alas my so white, my so cold Marguerite! On the satin back of the avalanche soft, She falls into lingering swoons, as she dies, While she lifteth her eyes to white visions aloft, Which like efflorescence float up to the skies. When at times, in her languor, down on to this sphere, She slyly lets trickle a furtive tear, A poet, desiring slumber to shun, Takes up this pale tear in the palm of his hand The colours of which like an opal blend , And buries it far from the eyes of the sun.
When musing, they display those outlines chaste, Of the great sphinxes stretched o'er the sandy waste, That seem to slumber deep in a dream without end: From out their loins a fountainous furnace flies, And grains of sparkling gold, as fine as sand, Bestar the mystic pupils of their eyes.
Owls Beneath the shades of sombre yews, The silent owls sit ranged in rows, Like ancient idols, strangely pose, And darting fiery eyes, they muse. Immovable, they sit and gaze, Until the melancholy hour, At which the darknesses devour The faded sunset's slanting rays. Their attitude, instructs the wise, That he within this world who flies From tumult and from merriment ; The man allured by a passing face, For ever bears the chastisement Of having wished to change his place. To my planet pale, 'Neath a ceiling of mist, in the lofty breeze, I set my sail.
With inflated lungs and expanded chest, Like to a sail, On the backs of the heaped-up billows I rest Which the shadows veil I feel all the anguish within me arise Of a ship in distress ; The tempest, the rain, 'neath the lowering skies, My body caress: At times, the calm pool or the mirror clear Of my despair! The Joyous Defunct Where snails abound in a juicy soil, I will dig for myself a fathomless grave, Where at leisure mine ancient bones I can coil, And sleep quite forgotten like a shark 'neath the wave.
I hate every tomb I abominate wills, And rather than tears from the world to implore, I would ask of the crows with their vampire bills To devour every bit of my carcass impure.
Oh worms, without eyes, without ears, black friends! To you a defunct-one, rejoicing, descends, Enlivened Philosophers offspring of Dung! Without any qualms, o'er my wreckage spread, And tell if some torment there still can be wrung For this soul-less old frame that is dead 'midst the dead! For me, my soul is cracked, and 'mid her cares, Would often fill with her songs the midnight airs ; And oft it chances that her feeble moan Is like the wounded warrior's fainting groan, W T ho by a lake of blood, 'neath bodies slain, In anguish falls, and never moves again.
Spleen The rainy moon of all the world is weary, And from its urn a gloomy cold pours down, Upon the pallid inmates of the mortuary, And on the neighbouring- outskirts of the town.
My wasted cat, in searching for a litter, Bestirs its mangy paws from post to post ; A poet's soul that wanders in the gutter, With the jaded voice of a shiv'ring ghost. The smoking pine-log, while the drone laments, Accompanies the wheezy pendulum, The while amidst a haze of dirty scents, Those fatal remnants of a sick man's room The gallant knave of hearts and queen of spades Relate their ancient amorous escapades.
The answering echoes of your " De Profundis " moan. I hate thee, Ocean! This bitter glee Of vanquished mortals, full of insults and of sobs, I hear it in the mighteous laughter of the sea.
O starless night! But e'en those darknesses themselves to me are veils, Where live and, by the millions 'neath my eyelids prance, Long, long departed Beings with familiar glance. Magnetic Horror " Beneath this sky, so livid and strange, Tormented like thy destiny, What thoughts within thy spirit range Themselves?
O libertine reply. O heavens, turbulent as the streams, In you I mirror forth my pride! Your clouds, which clad in mourning, glide, Are the hearses of my dreams, And in your illusion lies the hell, Wherein my heart delights to dwell. Everywhere, Man feels the terror of mystery, And looks upon high with a glance full of fear. The Heaven above, that oppressive wall ; A ceiling lit up in some lewd music hall, Where the actors step forth on a blood-red soil The eremite's hope, and the dread of the sot, The Sky ; that black lid of a mighty pot, Where, vast and minute, human Races boil.
Large eyes of my child! O Arcana profoundly adored! Ye resemble so closely those caves in the magical creek ; Where within the deep slumbering shade of some petrified peak, There shines, undiscovered, the gems of a dazzling hoard.
My child has got eyes so profound and so dark and so vast, Like thee! Their flames are those thoughts that with Love and with Faith combine, And sparkle deep down in the depths so alluring or chaste.
I saw flower, furrow, and brook. I recall How they swooned like a tremulous heart 'neath the sun, Let us haste to the sky-line, 'tis late, let us run, At least to catch one slanting ray ere it fall.
But the god, who eludes me, I chase all in vain, The night, irresistible, plants its domain, Black mists and vague shivers of death it forbodes ; While an odour of graves through the darkness spreads, And on the swamp's margin, my timid foot treads Upon slimy snails, and on unseen toads.
Meditation Be wise, O my Woe, seek thy grievance to drown, Thou didst call for the night, and behold it is here, An atmosphere sombre, envelopes the town, To some bringing peace and to others a care. Whilst the manifold souls of the vile multitude, 'Neath the lash of enjoyment, that merciless sway, Go plucking remorse from the menial brood, From them far, O my grief, hold my hand, come this way.
Behold how they beckon, those years, long expired, From Heaven, in faded apparel attired, How Regret, smiling, foams on the waters like yeast ; Its arches of slumber the dying sun spreads, And like a long winding-sheet dragged to the East, Oh, hearken Beloved, how the Night softly treads!
Agile and noble, with limbs of perfect poise. Ah, how I drank, thrilled through like a Being insane, In her look, a dark sky, from whence springs forth the hurricane, There lay but the sweetness that charms, and the joy that destroys.
A flash then the night. O loveliness fugitive! Whose glance has so suddenly caused me again to live, Shall I not see you again till this life is o'er! Elsewhere, far away Illusionary Love When I behold thee wander by, my languorous love, To songs of viols which throughout the dome resound, Harmonious and stately as thy footsteps move, Bestowing forth the languor of thy glance profound. When I regard thee, glowing in the gaslight rays, Thy pallid brow embellished by a charm obscure, Here where the evening torches light the twilight haze, Thine eyes attracting me like those of a portraiture, I say How beautiful she is!
A mighty memory, royal and commanding tower, A garland: Art thou, that spicy Autumn-fruit with taste supreme? Art thou a funeral vase inviting tears of grief?
Aroma causing one of Eastern wastes to dream ; A downy cushion, bunch of flowers or golden sheaf? I know that there are eyes, most melancholy ones, Wherein no precious secret deeply hidden lies, Resplendent shrines, devoid of relics, sacred stones, More empty, more profound than ye yourselves, O skies? Yea, does thy semblance, not alone for me suffice, To kindle senses which the cruel truth abhor?
All one to me! On that great plain, where frigid blasts abound, Where through the nights, so long, the vane whirls round, My soul, more free than in the springtime soft, Will stretch her raven wings and soar aloft, Unto an heart with gloomy things replete, On which remain the frosts of former Times, O pallid seasons, mistress of our climes As your pale shadows nothing is so sweet, Unless it be, on a moonless night a-twain, On some chance couch to soothe to sleep our Pain.
Let's, like two angels tortured by Some dark, delirious phantasy, Pursue the distant mirage drawn O'er the blue crystal of the dawn! And gently balanced on the wing Of some obliging whirlwind, we In equal rapture revelling My sister, side by side will flee, Without repose, nor truce, where gleams The golden Paradise of my dreams!