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Charles Baudelaire

(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

Quotations

  • ''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).
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  • ''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.
  • ''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.
  • ''Whether you come from heaven or hell, what does it matter, O Beauty!''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French. Flowers of Evil, "Hymn to Beauty," (1860).
  • ''There is no more steely barb than that of the Infinite.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. Complete Works, vol. 1, "Shorter Prose Poems," ed. Gérard le Dantec; rev. Claude Pichois (1953). The Artist "Confiteor," La Presse (Paris, Aug. 26, 1862).
  • ''Alas! everything is an abyss,—action, dream, desire, speech!''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet, critic. Flowers of Evil, "The Abyss," (1862).
  • ''I have to confess that I had gambled on my soul and lost it with heroic insouciance and lightness of touch. The soul is so impalpable, so often useless, and sometimes such a nuisance, that I felt no more emotion on losing it than if, on a stroll, I had mislaid my visiting card.''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet. repr. In Complete Works, vol. 4, "Shorter Prose Poems," ed. Yves-Gérard le Dantec; rev. Claude Pichois (1953). "The Generous Gambler," in Figaro (Paris, Feb. 7, 1864).
  • ''We want ... to plunge into the depths of the abyss, Hell or Heaven, what does it matter? into the depths of the Unknown to find something new!''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet, critic. Flowers of Evil, "The Voyage," (1859).
  • ''Who would dare assign to art the sterile function of imitating nature?''
    Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet, critic. The Painter of Modern Life, XI "In Praise of Cosmetics," (1863).

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Sonnet Of Autumn

HEY say to me, thy clear and crystal eyes:
'Why dost thou love me so, strange lover mine?'
Be sweet, be still! My heart and soul despise
All save that antique brute-like faith of thine;

And will not bare the secret of their shame
To thee whose hand soothes me to slumbers long,
Nor their black legend write for thee in flame!
Passion I hate, a spirit does me wrong.

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