Charles Baudelaire: Poems


Many of Baudelaire's philosophical proclamations were considered scandalous and intentionally provocative in his time. He wrote on a wide range of subjects, drawing criticism and outrage from many quarters.


"There is an invincible taste for prostitution in the heart of man, from which comes his horror of solitude. He wants to be 'two'. The man of genius wants to be 'one'.... It is this horror of solitude, the need to lose oneself in the external flesh, that man nobly calls 'the need to love'."[40]


"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage."[40]

The artist

"The more a man cultivates the arts, the less randy he becomes.... Only the brute is good at coupling, and copulation is the lyricism of the masses. To copulate is to enter into another—and the artist never emerges from himself."[40]


"Personally, I think that the unique and supreme delight lies in the certainty of doing 'evil'–and men and women know from birth that all pleasure lies in evil."[40]

"But what can eternity of damnation matter to someone who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight??"


Along with Poe, Baudelaire named the arch-reactionary Joseph de Maistre as his maître à penser[41] and adopted increasingly aristocratic views. In his journals, he wrote "There is no form of rational and assured government save an aristocracy. A monarchy or a republic, based upon democracy, are equally absurd and feeble. The immense nausea of advertisements. There are but three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the warrior and the poet. To know, to kill and to create. The rest of mankind may be taxed and drudged, they are born for the stable, that is to say, to practise what they call professions."[42]

The public

"In this regards, my friend, you're like the public, to whom one should never offer a delicate perfume. It exasperates them. Give them only carefully selected garbage." [43]


"The will to work must dominate, for art is long and time is brief."[43] (quoting Hippocrates)

"Each man bears within himself his own dose of natural opium, incessantly secreted and renewed, and, from birth to death, how many hours can we count filled with pleasure,with prosperous and effective action?" [43]

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