Treasure Island

Charles Baudelaire

(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

Quotations

  • ''The man who, from the beginning of his life, has been bathed at length in the soft atmosphere of a woman, in the smell of her hands, of her bosom, of her knees, of her hair, of her supple and floating clothes, ... has contracted from this contact a tender skin and a distinct accent, a kind of androgyny without which the harshest and most masculine genius remains, as far as perfection in art is concerned, an incomplete being.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet, critic. Artificial Paradise, An Opium-eater, VII. Childhood Sorrows (1860). On men who have been raised by women.
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  • ''We have tried so hard to adulterate our hearts, and have so greatly abused the microscope to study the hideous excrescences and shameful warts which cover them and which we take pleasure in magnifying, that it is impossible for us to speak the language of other men.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet, critic. Samuel Cramer, in La Fanfarlo (1847), trans. 1986. On poets of his generation.
  • ''Often, while contemplating works of art, not in their easily perceptible materiality, in the too-clear hieroglyphs of their contours or the obvious meaning of their subject, but in the soul with which they are endowed, in the atmospheric impression that they convey, in the spiritual light or darkness which they pour into our souls, I have felt entering into me a kind of vision of the childhood of their creators. Some little sorrow, some small pleasure of the child, inordinately inflated by an exquisite sensibility, become later on in the adult man, even without his knowing it, the basis of a work of art.... Genius is nothing but childhood clearly formulated, newly endowed with virile and powerful means of self-expression.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet, critic. Artificial Paradise, An Opium-eater, VI. The Genius as a Child (1860).
  • ''What is exhilarating in bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of giving offense.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. Squibs, Intimate Journals, sct. 18 (1887), trans. by Christopher Isherwood (1930), rev. Don Bachardy (1989).
  • ''You must shock the Bourgeois.
    (Il faut épater le bourgeois.)''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. Attributed.
  • ''Hugo, like a priest, always has his head bowed—bowed so low that he can see nothing except his own navel.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. "Squibs," sect. 22, Intimate Journals (1887), trans. by Christopher Isherwood (1930), revised by Don Bachardy (1989). Of Victor Hugo.
  • ''Who among us has not, in moments of ambition, dreamt of the miracle of a form of poetic prose, musical but without rhythm and rhyme, both supple and staccato enough to adapt itself to the lyrical movements of our souls, the undulating movements of our reveries, and the convulsive movements of our consciences? This obsessive ideal springs above all from frequent contact with enormous cities, from the junction of their innumerable connections.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. repr. In Complete Works, vol. 1, "Shorter Prose Poems," ed. Yves-Gérard le Dantec, revised by Claude Pichois (1953). Dedication of Le Spleen de Paris, La Presse (Paris, August 26, 1862).
  • ''The son will run away from the family not at eighteen but at twelve, emancipated by his gluttonous precocity; he will fly not to seek heroic adventures, not to deliver a beautiful prisoner from a tower, not to immortalize a garret with sublime thoughts, but to found a business, to enrich himself and to compete with his infamous papa.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), French poet. "Squibs," sct. 22, Intimate Journals (1887), trans. by Christopher Isherwood (1930), rev. by Don Bachardy (1989).
  • ''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.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. Complete Works, vol. 1, "Shorter Prose Poems," ed. Yves-Gérard le Dantec; rev. Claude Pichois (1953). Enivrez-vous, Figaro (Paris, Feb. 7, 1864).
  • ''We all have the republican spirit in our veins, like syphilis in our bones. We are democratized and venerealized.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. Sur la Belgique, epilogue, Complete Works, vol. 2, ed. Yves-Gérard le Dantec, rev. by Claude Pichois (1976). A never-completed book on Belgium.

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Autumn

Soon we will plunge ourselves into cold shadows,
And all of summer's stunning afternoons will be gone.
I already hear the dead thuds of logs below
Falling on the cobblestones and the lawn.

All of winter will return to me:
derision, Hate, shuddering, horror, drudgery and vice,
And exiled, like the sun, to a polar prison,
My soul will harden into a block of red ice.

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