One of the most thrilling poets of the 19th century, Charles Baudelaire was a fun phantom to be around, relevant to listen to in our society. Although he’s still looking for alcohol and has melancholic thoughts, as I. Just kidding… Or not.
Baudelaire was deeply repelled by commercialism and stated that man is “naturally depraved.”
Baudelaire and the seduction of solitude
Baudelaire considers his wandering as a ghost no worse than it was as a human, carnal enveloped. It was easy for him to be himself of someone else as human. Connecting with me and taking my voice to sing L’Homme et la Mer (Man and the Sea), from the book Les fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil) was a fantastic experience.
Charles Baudelaire poems represent a suite of long and dark fairy tales, exploring human behaviors and their surrounding.
The world is hell, he said. He was deeply torn between the ideal and “the spleen” (deep existential angst).
He experimented with different paths and found different conclusions:
- Wine, artificial paradises, an escape but not a solution.
- Les fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), vice, and debauchery leading to self-loathing.
- Exalting Satan, to make a pact with the devil is not more helpful.
- Death, the last way.
My clash with Charles Baudelaire
“But Charles, your family paid for your dandy lifestyle!”
When I find inconsistency in a ghost, he generally grumbles and does not return for a few months.
In 1844, Baudelaire spent nearly half of a significant capital he had inherited two years before. A lawyer was legally responsible for managing his fortune and paying him his “allowance”. Baudelaire had expensive tastes, and he was bitter about this intervention for the rest of his life.
I’m used to ear know-it-all and moralists townies even if I try to avoid them. I let him do the talking to explore temporal similarities and inspirational poems.
I put an end to his laments when he complained about nature:
– I understand you are a “man of the city” but I won’t let you denigrate nature, I said.
– “Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters of my imagination to the triteness of actuality.”
“Who would dare to assign to art the sterile function of imitating nature?” Charles said.
– You described commerce as “in its very essence, satanic” and as “the vilest form of egotism.” If that’s so, why did you drink a good bottle of wine with me?
– Charles: Fine! I’m going home, beyond the sea.
Perhaps he will show up if we play the song we recorded together and drink:
The 2020s, the spleen is back?
The modern feeling of loneliness and sadness in big city is nothing new. And it is relatively widespread in France, where streets and rooms are too narrow. Likewise, it affects many artists and people who doubt or lack exciting projects to savor the sweet feeling of accomplishment.
Charles Baudelaire denigrated nature, and nature returns the favor. The contrast between the lure of the big city and loneliness in a single room or in the countryside can be deadly.
Baudelaire is one of the major figures in the world’s literary history. Composing my first album with 12 of the best poets of France without him would have been a misstep.
Bringing my artistry to one of his poems has been an exciting experience.
“To escape the fate of those tormented slaves of Time, get drunk.
Drink deep, never ceasing.
Whether wine, poetry, or virtue, the choice is yours.”
Charles Baudelaire (Paris 1821 – 1867).
L’Homme et la Mer
Homme libre, toujours tu chériras la mer !
La mer est ton miroir ; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame,
Et ton esprit n’est pas un gouffre moins amer.
Tu te plais à plonger au sein de ton image ;
Tu l’embrasses des yeux et des bras, et ton coeur
Se distrait quelquefois de sa propre rumeur
Au bruit de cette plainte indomptable et sauvage.
Vous êtes tous les deux ténébreux et discrets :
Homme, nul n’a sondé le fond de tes abîmes ;
Ô mer, nul ne connaît tes richesses intimes,
Tant vous êtes jaloux de garder vos secrets !
Et cependant voilà des siècles innombrables
Que vous vous combattez sans pitié ni remord,
Tellement vous aimez le carnage et la mort,
Ô lutteurs éternels, ô frères implacables !
Note : I moved a few lines for the chorus.
Man and the Sea
Free man, you will always cherish the sea!
The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite unrolling of its billows;
Your mind is an abyss that is no less bitter.
You like to plunge into the bosom of your image;
You embrace it with eyes and arms, and your heart
Is distracted at times from its own clamoring
By the sound of this plaint, wild and untamable.
Both of you are gloomy and reticent:
Man, no one has sounded the depths of your being;
O Sea, no person knows your most hidden riches,
So zealously do you keep your secrets!
Yet for countless ages you have fought each other
Without pity, without remorse,
So fiercely do you love carnage and death,
O eternal fighters, implacable brothers!
Translation by William Aggeler (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954).