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The Flowers of Evil by Charles P. Baudelaire, Poetry, European, French

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The poems deal with themes relating to decadence and eroticism. Charles Baudelaire opens The Flowers of Evil with a poem entitled “Benediction,” and it’s special stuff — but of course it is, we’re talking about a poem by Charles Baudelaire, for god’s sake. When by the changeless Power of a Supreme Decree The poet issues forth upon this sorry sphere, His mother, horrified, and full of blasphemy, Uplifts her voice to God, who takes compassion on her. “Ah, why did I not bear a serpent’s nest entire, Instead of bringing forth this hideous Child of Doom! Oh cursèd be that transient night of vain desire When I conceived my expiation in my womb!”



Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, industrializing Paris during the 19th century. Baudelaire’s highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé among many others. He is credited with coining the term “modernity” (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis and the responsibility art has to capture that experience.

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