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!