“Beacons” by Charles Baudelaire

Francisco Goya

Francisco Goya

This is a great poem that pays homage to the painters who inspired Baudelaire. It’s fairly long, so I am going to include a link to the poem rather than include it in this post.


Each of the first eight stanzas is dedicated to an artist and describes their artistic styles and works. The eight artists are Rubens, da Vinci, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Puget, Watteau, Goya, and Delacroix. All of these artists are described as drawing inspiration from darker sources, or “Deducing beauty from crime, vice and terror.” Just as Baudelaire was able to use the sick, evil, and decayed as fertilizer to grow his Flowers of Evil, so these artists managed to take the grotesque and perverse and create stunning works of beauty.

After acknowledging these artists, Baudelaire addresses the divine, and in a way, offers thanks for the pain, suffering, insanity, and decadence that sparked the artistic flame, igniting the beacons to shine through the darkness which is the human condition.

These curses, blasphemies, and lamentations,
These ecstasies, tears, cries and soaring psalms —
Through endless mazes, their reverberations
Bring, to our mortal hearts, divinest balms.

A thousand sentinels repeat the cry.
A thousand trumpets echo. Beacon-tossed
A thousand summits flare it through the sky,
A call of hunters in the jungle lost.

And certainly this is the most sublime
Proof of our worth and value, Oh Divinity,
That this great sob rolls on through ageless time
To die upon the shores of your infinity.

In these final stanzas, the hunter is a symbol for the artist, who is pursuing the muse. The jumgle is like the wilderness. It represents the darker and primal aspect of the artist’s subconscious mind. It is here where one must venture in order to find the most powerful sources of creative inspiration. The artist must then share the vision, acting as a beacon and a source of inspiration to other artists and humanity as a whole.

Baudelaire’s work never ceases to amaze and inspire me. He is truly one of the most original and stirring poets that I have encountered. I hope you enjoyed the post. Have an inspired day!



Filed under Literature

8 responses to ““Beacons” by Charles Baudelaire

  1. I love the poem and have not read it before. The stanza on Leonardo da Vinci made the strongest impact on me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
    With thanks to Symbol Reader ❤

  3. Hi dear Jeff,
    This one was certainly a mesmerizing study of Baudelaire’s poem… I felt captivated because of the fact that the poet say thanks for the pain and suffering… The feeling of decadence and ennui were so important for his generation and you have well highlighted those aspects.
    I liked the final analysis of the ending stanzas, in which you explain the meanings behind the symbols and metaphors (Particularly the wilderness, representing the primal aspect of the poet’s subconscious mind).
    Thanks for sharing this jewel.
    Best wishes to you, always, Aquileana 😛

    • Hi Aquileana! Thank you so much for your comment. The fact that you got a lot out of my post means so much to me. You are spot on regarding the importance of decadence and ennui to the writers of that period. But I think what makes Baudelaire so unique is that he uses decadence and ennui as ways to elevate himself spiritually.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!


  4. gideon zorochov

    the link to the full describe of the poem doesn’t work.
    just letting you know.

    • Hey there. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I guess some things do not stay on the internet forever 😉 Anyway, I changed the link to a site that has multiple translations of the poem. I hope it’s helpful. Have a great weekend.