Charles Baudelaire: Poems Quotes


"One sees a ragpicker knocking against the walls, Paying no heed to the spies of the cops, his thralls, But stumbling like a poet lost in dreams; He pours his heart out in stupendous schemes."

Baudelaire, "The Ragpickers' Wine"

The ragpicker is a man who devotes his life to pleasure. Instead of holding down a regular job, he spends his day making wine in order to help the villagers escape the monotony and pain of their regular lives each night. He does this despite its illegality because he's preoccupied with his desire to have a good time.

"To lull these wretches' sloth and drown the hate
Of all who mutely die, compassionate,
God has created sleep's oblivion;
Man added Wine, divine child of the Sun."
Baudelaire, "The Ragpickers' Wine"

Baudelaire writes the God intended for sleep to be mankind's defense against depression and hatred. Sleep off a bad day because tomorrow may be a better one. Men, however, invented wine in order to make light of their problems. Ingratitude led them to add to God's creation for their own pleasure.

"As I breathe, he burns my lungs like fever And fills me with an eternal guilty desire."

Baudelaire, "Destruction"

In "Destruction," Baudelaire writes about a demon named Destruction who tempts him to do all the things he should not do according to God. The narrator is plagued by this demonic force, feeling his presence constantly. He cannot escape the awful desire which the temptation stirs up inside him. At the same time, however, he feels condemned and ashamed for these desires which he knows are contrary to his devotion to God.

"The sheer luminous gown The fountain wears Where Phoebe’s very own Color appears Falls like a summer rain Or shawl of tears."

Baudelaire, "The Fountain"

"The Fountain" is a love poem. Baudelaire describes this fountain which rests outside the apartment of the lovers, how it adds to their bliss. In the eyes of the lover, even the inanimate objects of the courtyard, like the fountain, reflect the affection he feels for his beloved. He describes the fountain in terms of a beautiful maiden, like the goddess Phoebe, who is gently clothed in moonlight.

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