Charles Baudelaire: Poems

Baudelaire's "The Albatross" and the Changing Role of the Poet

Charles Baudelaire is often considered a late Romantic poet. Even Baudelaire sought to equate himself with archetypal Romantic figures like Byron, Hugo, and Gautier; the latter once claimed that Baudelaire had "found a way to inject new life into Romanticism" with the publication of his magnum opus, Les Fleurs du Mal. However, the novelty that Baudelaire was allegedly introducing to ostensibly Romantic verse was essentially a reflection of the changing social environment. It involved a new characterization of the role of the poet, as demonstrated in Baudelaire’s poem “The Albatross.”

Baudelaire represents a shift into modernity that redefines the poet as a marginalized outcast, not a public spokesman. The art of the poet is demystified amid a tide of thought that similarly contributed to the rise of state secularism, atheism and a general modern godlessness. This de-sanctification, in conjunction with other modern malaise such as a socio-economic system based increasingly in the relative doldrums of specialization, heralded an increasingly common deficiency of the soul and weariness of the mind known as ennui.

The progressively less relevant, less confident poet is subject to the harassment of the masses for his...

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