Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Baudelaire and Intoxication

photo © Mark Butkus 2010
With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with skies and bottles blue.

One must be forever drunken:
that is the sole question of importance.
If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time
that bruises your shoulders and bends you to the earth,
you must be drunken without cease.
But how?
With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with what you please.
But be drunken.
And if sometimes,
on the steps of a palace,
on the green grass by a moat,
or in the dull loneliness of your chamber,
you should waken up,
your intoxication already lessened or gone,
ask of the wind, of the wave, of the star, of the bird, of the timepiece;
ask of all that flees, all that sighs, all that revolves, all that sings, all that speaks, ask of these the hour;
and wind and wave and star and bird and timepiece will answer you:
"It is the hour to be drunken!
Lest you be the martyred slaves of Time,
intoxicate yourselves, be drunken without cease!
With wine, with poetry, with virtue, or with what you will."

— Charles Baudelaire

A critic and essayist, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) was an active participant in the artistic life of his times.  Baudelaire wrote extensively and perceptively about French culture and the responsibility of art to capture the experience.His poetry influenced the likes of Verlaine and Rimbaud.

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