Last Tuesday, for kicks, the cachinnate sea-crew Downed an albatross, a vast sea-bird, The indolent companion of our wake, who lazily traced Our ship's slippage through bitter breakers. Once deposed to the common planks, This king of the wild blue stumbled in shame, Piteously dragging his white infinite wings Like chalky oars unmoored beside him. Winged voyager! Now dementedly frail! O royal one! Now splay and exposed! One sailor crams His Highness' beak with a burning pipe; The next limps and mimics this cripple who soared! The Poet is one with this swift prince of the clouds Who haunts the tempest and mocks swart archers: Exiled to earth's low hoots and threats, His giant wings hobble each inch of his step. --Charles Baudelaire
Novella inspired by the life of the French symbolist poet, Charles Baudelaire. From the book:
The title of my intensest work, Flowers of Evil, says everything. I am all declared in this paradox. It was gestated with the patience of an elephant’s child, which labors 14 months in the womb before its gigantic birth, the size of a black coup caught in a rain of elemental perfumes. I am positive it is worth all the lies I have told to see it to print; it is also, I may mention, almost worth all the truths I have had to suffer to bring it off in rage and patience. People… their faces go up in flame when they read it. And yet, they deny me everything, all the glory that they were so willing to load down Satan with, they leave me bereft of, although they declare me his disciple. Hypocrites! I am tired, even, of seeing through their terrible, tepid hearts; pale as the starved spit of a saint! Willess imbeciles. The virtue of my trepanned treatise lies exactly in its faults, and these may all be summed up in one singular, monstrous phrase: it is honest!
Without the incantation of a formula, there is no science. Lacking science, how can one have a poetry of mists and amulets, razors and daisies? If a heart should miss a beat, but then return to its effortful circulation, the circumlocution of its everyday existence, that petty farce and sham, we are brought to a new knowing of the heart, an awareness that it exists. To stop hearts, that is my experiment. If they start back up again…. Well, I tried. My own one day will forget itself.
How to see reality but through enchantment? How to create a vision that enchants yourself? This is the only difficulty: to be made to believe by words alone, so that reality may be completely blotted out, as in an opium stupor, or lonely Poe upon his lover’s tomb chanting verities, and then to dismiss the fiction that has dismissed the world. Ah! That must be what it is like to be alive for a moment. An ocean of feeling–eviscerated!
Is this sanity? Yes, if properly punctuated.
Attend to life, and then depart it. This is how one cultivates the ‘voice from beyond the tomb.’ Velvet weltanschauung!
“Nerval, how shall we blend all effects, all expressions?”
“Do you really? As a child, I was too new to forget anything; everything was too close, too sudden to forget. I had yet to be touched by that magic wand, Nostalgia. One needs a death.”
“Now I remember.”
“That must be a poem!”