31 January 2009

The Flowers of Evil - Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)

A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.

A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else

A sweetheart is a bottle of wine, a wife is a wine bottle

All which is beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation.

Always be a poet, even in prose.

Any healthy man can go without food for two days - but not without poetry.

Any man who does not accept the conditions of life sells his soul.

Any newspaper, from the first line to the last, is nothing but a web of horrors, I cannot understand how an innocent hand can touch a newspaper without convulsing in disgust.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself.

As a small child, I felt in my heart two contradictory feelings, the horror of life and the ecstasy of life.

Beauty is the sole ambition, the exclusive goal of Taste.

But a dandy can never be a vulgar man.

Common sense tells us that the things of the earth exist only a little, and that true reality is only in dreams.

Even if it were proven that God didn't exist, Religion would still be Saintly and Divine.

Even in the centuries which appear to us to be the most monstrous and foolish, the immortal appetite for beauty has always found satisfaction.

Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.

Everything for me becomes allegory.

Everything that is beautiful and noble is the product of reason and calculation.

Evil is committed without effort, naturally, fatally; goodness is always the product of some art.

Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product of an art.

For each letter received from a creditor, write fifty lines on an extraterrestrial subject and you will be saved.

For the merchant, even honesty is a financial speculation.

France is not poetic; she even feels, in fact, a congenital horror of poetry. Among the writers who use verse, those whom she will always prefer are the most prosaic.

God is the only being who, in order to reign, doesn't even need to exist.

How little remains of the man I once was, save the memory of him! But remembering is only a new form of suffering.

Hypocrite reader my fellow my brother!

I am unable to understand how a man of honor could take a newspaper in his hands without a shudder of disgust.

I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.

I have cultivated my hysteria with pleasure and terror.

I have more memories than if I were a thousand years old.

I love Wagner, but the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by its tail outside a window and trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws.

If the poet has pursued a moral objective, he has diminished his poetic force.

In literature as in ethics, there is danger, as well as glory, in being subtle. Aristocracy isolates us.

In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men.

Inspiration comes of working every day.

It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For if, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree.

It is from the womb of art that criticism was born.

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.

It is time to get drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk; get drunk without stopping! On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, as you wish.

It would be difficult for me not to conclude that the most perfect type of masculine beauty is Satan, as portrayed by Milton.

It would perhaps be nice to be alternately the victim and the executioner.

Let us beware of common folk, of common sense, of sentiment, of inspiration, and of the obvious.

Modernity is the transient, the fleeting, the contingent; it is one half of art, the other being the eternal and the immovable.

Modernity signifies the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art of which the other half is the eternal and the immutable.

Music fathoms the sky.

Nature is a temple in which living columns sometimes emit confused words. Man approaches it through forests of symbols, which observe him with familiar glances.

Nature... is nothing but the inner voice of self-interest.

Nearly all our originality comes from the stamp that time impresses upon our sensibility.

Nothing can be done except little by little.

Our religion is itself profoundly sad - a religion of universal anguish, and one which, because of its very catholicity, grants full liberty to the individual and asks no better than to be celebrated in each man's own language - so long as he knows anguish and is a painter.

Progress, this great heresy of decay.

Sexuality is the lyricism of the masses.

The dance can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music, and it has the additional merit of being human and palpable. Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.

The insatiable thirst for everything which lies beyond, and which life reveals, is the most living proof of our immortality.

The life of our city is rich in poetic and marvelous subjects. We are enveloped and steeped as though in an atmosphere of the marvelous; but we do not notice it.

The lover of life makes the whole world into his family, just as the lover of the fair sex creates his from all the lovely women he has found, from those that could be found, and those who are impossible to find.

The man who says his evening prayer is a captain posting his sentinels. He can sleep.

The pleasure we derive from the representation of the present is due, not only to the beauty it can be clothed in, but also to its essential quality of being the present.

The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself and others, as he wishes.

The priest is an immense being because he makes the crowd believe astonishing things.

The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist cries with terror before being defeated.

The unique and supreme voluptuousness of love lies in the certainty of committing evil. And men and women know from birth that in evil is found all sensual delight.

The world only goes round by misunderstanding.

There are as many kinds of beauty as there are habitual ways of seeking happiness.

There are moments of existence when time and space are more profound, and the awareness of existence is immensely heightened.

There exist only three respectable beings: the priest, the warrior, the poet. To know, to kill, and to create.

There is no dream of love, however ideal it may be, which does not end up with a fat, greedy baby hanging from the breast.

There is no more steely barb than that of the Infinite.

There is no such thing as a long piece of work, except one that you dare not start.

This life is a hospital in which every patient is possessed with a desire to change his bed.

Those men get along best with women who can get along best without them.

To be a great man and a saint for oneself, that is the only important thing.

To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.

To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art - that is, intimacy, spirituality, color, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts.

Two fundamental literary qualities: supernaturalism and irony.

We are all born marked for evil.

We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of Time. And there are but two means of escaping and forgetting this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose.

What is art? Prostitution.

What is exhilarating in bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of giving offense.

Whether you come from heaven or hell, what does it matter, O Beauty!

Who would dare assign to art the sterile function of imitating nature?