Charles Baudelaire: Poems

Carrion: Undying Love in the Face of Vile Death College

Charles Baudelaire uses his works to describe his idea of the spleen, or “the restless malaise affecting modern life” (Bedford 414). The spleen is an organ that removes toxins from the human body, but to Baudelaire it is also a symbol of melancholy, moral degradation, and the destruction of the human spirit, brought on by the constraints of modern life. Baudelaire uses shocking and grotesque imagery to assault the readers sensibilities, in an effort to expose the beauty inherent in even the most reviled aspects of life. Baudelaire brings to light the toxins, that are purified by the spleen, so that society can accept and move beyond them. In Carrion, the author uses his shocking style to impress upon the reader the beautiful and undying nature of love.

Carrion is a recollection, from one lover to another, of a day that the lovers happened upon a rotting carcass. The speaker, of the poem, relates, in grisly detail, the purification of the the carcass. Baudelaire's vivid description of decay is his way to express the spleen. As he recounts the corpse having “a belly slick with lethal sweat/and swollen with foul gas” (ℓℓ 7-8), the image mirrors the toxins, from which the spleen purifies the body. Through...

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