pomes by Charles Baudelaire
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In his poem, “Her Hair”, Charles Baudelaire romanticizes a luxuriant feature of the body of his mistress. The consummate flaneur, or urban voyeur, Baudelaire lingers over, imbibes, and enjoys his object in poetic discourse—a pretty means of hungrily devouring the black flesh of an object of his desire. Baudelaire's poetry in many ways bridges the gap between the Romantic period and that of the Modern, and has facets of both styles. His is the city and environs fashionable and yet tawdry—an affected anti-bourgeois landscape of bordellos, absinthe, starched cravats, smartly cut tailcoats, and the god of flesh. He means to shock, and that he does. One can only imagine the mid-nineteenth century reader's ghastly reaction to his ribald verse. In the midst of mid-century Paris, a new night of the soul is setting upon the moral landscape—the commodification of sex increases the jewels in the crown of capitalism. Although Baudelaire in some ways resists the tides of the free market, saying near the end of his life that he wanted to “turn the whole human race against me” (Graham 156) in the end by his attachment to modernity and the flesh he becomes nothing more than a prophet of the capitalistic rot of society. “Her Hair” is perhaps one of the pivotal poems in his oeuvre—faraway dreams mingled with modernist insatiability.
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