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!
What a man can say, you have said–imperishably and poignantly. The rest is for a monk’s meditation, or curses gnashed under the tusks of demons in Hell–as you might say! Any who have endured–ah! how wanted and wittingly!–an attack of the Ideal will know that the nacreous odor of your Flowers of Evil is but the sadness of separation from that Ideal, combined with an intenser appreciation of its reality. We live exiled from our rightful realm. You write of this exile as your lightning-limbed Satan might–with a clear-sighted anguish; to see the minarets of the heavenly mansion, but remain damned and disinvited! Our poetic selves live, sigh and thrive in an alternative vision of paradise that is not yet manifest. You are the first to see this: that there are new heavens we have yet to invent. That, in essence, is the catastrophe and surpassing chance of the poet; that is his moral obligation: to invent heaven. Could the court see the sincerity of this project of yours, your words would be carved in every cathedral in capital letters of gild and porphyry a foot high–and your government pension assured, incidentally. The impossibility of this actually coming to pass, however, and the certitude of its immanence nevertheless, gives rise to a possible impossibility, as it were: the impossimpable! (if one may coin so crass a term).
My fellow laborer in the fields of Elysium, good luck with your day of judgement. My wishes for lenient laws and a mellow judiciary follow your footsteps to the courthouse tomorrow morning!
Yours in art,
P.S. I have sent a messenger round to her Highness, the Princess Mathilde, but I do not have much hope for you there. Your tavern companions are too Republican!