Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was a french poet--some argue one of the greatest french poets of the 19Th century-- who was given the surnom of 'the father of modern criticism,' shocked the Conservatives with his unveiled view of lust and decay. Baudelaire was the first to assimilate modern, artificial, and decadent--was on the side of artificiality, saying that vices are natural and essentially selfish where virtue are artificial because one put forth an conscious effort and restraint in order to be good. To Baudelaire the snobbishly controlled and the dandy were heroes and the ultimate proof of meaningless existence. He was a gentleman who never became vulgar and remained a cool collected smile.
His life was not an easy one, death, sadness and an estranged relationship with his mother after her third marriage, he was sent to boarding school and was expelled. His true passion since childhood was to live by his pen but still he enrolled in Law school, around this time he became addicted to Opium and later contracted lethal syphilis. His debts piled higher and higher around him and he left his studies and never returned.
From 1852 to 1865 he was occupied in translating Edgar Allan Poe's writings. In Poe, Baudelaire found a kindred spirit (Now you probably know why I like him. Anyone who loves Poe is aces in my book). When his Les Fleurs du Mal(The Flowers of Bad) came out all the people who had a hand in the work- author, printer, and publisher -were prosecuted and found guilty of obscenity and blasphemy. In this controversial book he transfers his guilt, sins and lies on the reader making them feel just as the poet felt. Waving the truth before their eyes and shedding the blinders with words, what powerful words, "If poison, arson, sex, narcotics, knives / have not yet ruined us and stitched their quick, / loud patterns on the canvas of our lives, / it is because our souls are still too sick."
With out further ado...the poem!
Charles Baudelaire's words translated by Roy Campbell
My blood in waves seems sometimes to be spouting
Across the town, as in the lists of battle,
I've also sought forgetfulness in lust,