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Best Famous Charles Baudelaire Poems

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Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

THE DANCE OF DEATH

 CARRYING bouquet, and handkerchief, and gloves, 
Proud of her height as when she lived, she moves 
With all the careless and high-stepping grace, 
And the extravagant courtesan's thin face.
Was slimmer waist e'er in a ball-room wooed? Her floating robe, in royal amplitude, Falls in deep folds around a dry foot, shod With a bright flower-like shoe that gems the sod.
The swarms that hum about her collar-bones As the lascivious streams caress the stones, Conceal from every scornful jest that flies, Her gloomy beauty; and her fathomless eyes Are made of shade and void; with flowery sprays Her skull is wreathed artistically, and sways, Feeble and weak, on her frail vertebrae.
O charm of nothing decked in folly! they Who laugh and name you a Caricature, They see not, they whom flesh and blood allure, The nameless grace of every bleached, bare bone, That is most dear to me, tall skeleton! Come you to trouble with your potent sneer The feast of Life! or are you driven here, To Pleasure's Sabbath, by dead lusts that stir And goad your moving corpse on with a spur? Or do you hope, when sing the violins, And the pale candle-flame lights up our sins, To drive some mocking nightmare far apart, And cool the flame hell lighted in your heart? Fathomless well of fault and foolishness! Eternal alembic of antique distress! Still o'er the curved, white trellis of your sides The sateless, wandering serpent curls and glides.
And truth to tell, I fear lest you should find, Among us here, no lover to your mind; Which of these hearts beat for the smile you gave? The charms of horror please none but the brave.
Your eyes' black gulf, where awful broodings stir, Brings giddiness; the prudent reveller Sees, while a horror grips him from beneath, The eternal smile of thirty-two white teeth.
For he who has not folded in his arms A skeleton, nor fed on graveyard charms, Recks not of furbelow, or paint, or scent, When Horror comes the way that Beauty went.
O irresistible, with fleshless face, Say to these dancers in their dazzled race: "Proud lovers with the paint above your bones, Ye shall taste death, musk scented skeletons! Withered Antino?s, dandies with plump faces, Ye varnished cadavers, and grey Lovelaces, Ye go to lands unknown and void of breath, Drawn by the rumour of the Dance of Death.
From Seine's cold quays to Ganges' burning stream, The mortal troupes dance onward in a dream; They do not see, within the opened sky, The Angel's sinister trumpet raised on high.
In every clime and under every sun, Death laughs at ye, mad mortals, as ye run; And oft perfumes herself with myrrh, like ye And mingles with your madness, irony!"
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

Get Drunk

Always be drunk.
That's it! The great imperative! In order not to feel Time's horrid fardel bruise your shoulders, grinding you into the earth, get drunk and stay that way.
On what? On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up on the porches of a palace, in the green grass of a ditch, in the dismal loneliness of your own room, your drunkenness gone or disappearing, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask everything that flees, everything that groans or rolls or sings, everything that speaks, ask what time it is; and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock will answer you: "Time to get drunk! Don't be martyred slaves of Time, Get drunk! Stay drunk! On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!"
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

The Ghost

 Down the street as I was drifting with the city's human tide, 
Came a ghost, and for a moment walked in silence by my side -- 
Now my heart was hard and bitter, and a bitter spirit he, 
So I felt no great aversion to his ghostly company.
Said the Shade: `At finer feelings let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, has ever been the motto for the world.
' And he said: `If you'd be happy, you must clip your fancy's wings, Stretch your conscience at the edges to the size of earthly things; Never fight another's battle, for a friend can never know When he'll gladly fly for succour to the bosom of the foe.
At the power of truth and friendship let your lip in scorn be curled -- `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.
`Where Society is mighty, always truckle to her rule; Never send an `i' undotted to the teacher of a school; Only fight a wrong or falsehood when the crowd is at your back, And, till Charity repay you, shut the purse, and let her pack; At the fools who would do other let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.
`Ne'er assail the shaky ladders Fame has from her niches hung, Lest unfriendly heels above you grind your fingers from the rung; Or the fools who idle under, envious of your fair renown, Heedless of the pain you suffer, do their worst to shake you down.
At the praise of men, or censure, let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.
`Flowing founts of inspiration leave their sources parched and dry, Scalding tears of indignation sear the hearts that beat too high; Chilly waters thrown upon it drown the fire that's in the bard; And the banter of the critic hurts his heart till it grows hard.
At the fame your muse may offer let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.
`Shun the fields of love, where lightly, to a low and mocking tune, Strong and useful lives are ruined, and the broken hearts are strewn.
Not a farthing is the value of the honest love you hold; Call it lust, and make it serve you! Set your heart on nought but gold.
At the bliss of purer passions let your lip in scorn be curled -- `Self and Pelf', my friend, shall ever be the motto of the world.
' Then he ceased and looked intently in my face, and nearer drew; But a sudden deep repugnance to his presence thrilled me through; Then I saw his face was cruel, by the look that o'er it stole, Then I felt his breath was poison, by the shuddering of my soul, Then I guessed his purpose evil, by his lip in sneering curled, And I knew he slandered mankind, by my knowledge of the world.
But he vanished as a purer brighter presence gained my side -- `Heed him not! there's truth and friendship in this wondrous world,' she cried, And of those who cleave to virtue in their climbing for renown, Only they who faint or falter from the height are shaken down.
At a cynic's baneful teaching let your lip in scorn be curled! `Brotherhood and Love and Honour!' is the motto for the world.
'
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

The Sick Muse

 My impoverished muse, alas! What have you for me this morning? 
Your empty eyes are stocked with nocturnal visions, 
In your cheek's cold and taciturn reflection, 
I see insanity and horror forming.
The green succubus and the red urchin, Have they poured you fear and love from their urns? The nightmare of a mutinous fist that despotically turns, Does it drown you at the bottom of a loch beyond searching? I wish that your breast exhaled the scent of sanity, That your womb of thought was not a tomb more frequently And that your Christian blood flowed around a buoy that was rhythmical, Like the numberless sounds of antique syllables, Where reigns in turn the father of songs, Phoebus, and the great Pan, the harvest sovereign.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

THE TEMPTATION

 THE Demon, in my chamber high, 
This morning came to visit me, 
And, thinking he would find some fault, 
He whispered: "I would know of thee 

Among the many lovely things 
That make the magic of her face, 
Among the beauties, black and rose, 
That make her body's charm and grace, 

Which is most fair?" Thou didst reply 
To the Abhorred, O soul of mine: 
"No single beauty is the best 
When she is all one flower divine.
When all things charm me I ignore Which one alone brings most delight; She shines before me like the dawn, And she consoles me like the night.
The harmony is far too great, That governs all her body fair, For impotence to analyse And say which note is sweetest there.
O mystic metamorphosis! My senses into one sense flow-- Her voice makes perfume when she speaks, Her breath is music faint and low!"
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

THE OWLS

 UNDER the overhanging yews, 
The dark owls sit in solemn state, 
Like stranger gods; by twos and twos 
Their red eyes gleam.
They meditate.
Motionless thus they sit and dream Until that melancholy hour When, with the sun's last fading gleam, The nightly shades assume their power.
From their still attitude the wise Will learn with terror to despise All tumult, movement, and unrest; For he who follows every shade, Carries the memory in his breast, Of each unhappy journey made.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

I Love The Naked Ages Long Ago

 I love the naked ages long ago 
When statues were gilded by Apollo, 
When men and women of agility 
Could play without lies and anxiety, 
And the sky lovingly caressed their spines, 
As it exercised its noble machine.
Fertile Cybele, mother of nature, then, Would not place on her daughters a burden, But, she-wolf sharing her heart with the people, Would feed creation from her brown nipples.
Men, elegant and strong, would have the right To be proud to have beauty named their king; Virgin fruit free of blemish and cracking, Whose flesh smooth and firm would summon a bite! The Poet today, when he would convey This native grandeur, would not be swept away By man free and woman natural, But would feel darkness envelop his soul Before this black tableau full of loathing.
O malformed monsters crying for clothing! O ludicrous heads! Torsos needing disguise! O poor writhing bodies of every wrong size, Children that the god of the Useful swaths In the language of bronze and brass! And women, alas! You shadow your heredity, You gnaw nourishment from debauchery, A virgin holds maternal lechery And all the horrors of fecundity! We have, it is true, corrupt nations, Beauty unknown to the radiant ancients: Faces that gnaw through the heart's cankers, And talk with the cool beauty of languor; But these inventions of our backward muses Are never hindered in their morbid uses Of the old for profound homage to youth, —To the young saint, the sweet air, the simple truth, To the eye as limpid as the water current, To spread out over all, insouciant Like the blue sky, the birds and the flowers, Its perfumes, its songs and its sweet fervors.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

Harmonie du Soir

 Voici venir les temps o? vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s'?vapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l'air du soir;
Valse m?lancolique et langoureux vertige! 
Chaque fleur s'?vapore ainsi qu'un encensoir;
Le violon fr?mit comme un coeur qu'on afflige;
Valse m?lancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.
Le violon fr?mit comme un coeur qu'on afflige, Un coeur tendre qui hait le n?ant vaste et noir! Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir; Le soleil s'est noy? dans son sang qui se fige.
Un coeur tendre qui hait le n?ant vaste et noir, Du pass? lumineux receuille tout vestige! Le soleil s'est noy? dans son sang qui se fige .
.
.
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

Beauty

 WHAT does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease, 
No man, woman, or child alive could please 
Me now.
And yet I almost dare to laugh Because I sit and frame an epitaph-- "Here lies all that no one loved of him And that loved no one.
" Then in a trice that whim Has wearied.
But, though I am like a river At fall of evening when it seems that never Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while Cross breezes cut the surface to a file, This heart, some fraction of me, hapily Floats through a window even now to a tree Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale; Not like a pewit that returns to wail For something it has lost, but like a dove That slants unanswering to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air Flies what yet lives in me.
Beauty is there
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

Elevation

 Above the ponds, beyond the valleys,
The woods, the mountains, the clouds, the seas,
Farther than the sun, the distant breeze,
The spheres that wilt to infinity

My spirit, you move with agility
And, like a good swimmer who swoons in the wave
You groove the depths immensity gave,
The inexpressible and male ecstasy.
>From this miasma of waste, You will be purified in superior air And drink a pure and divine liqueur, A clear fire to replace the limpid space Behind this boredom and fatigue, this vast chagrin Whose weight moves the mists of existence, Happy is he who vigorously fans the senses Toward serene and luminous fields—wincing! The one whose thoughts are like skylarks taken wing Across the heavens mornings in full flight —Who hovers over life, understanding without effort The language of flowers and mute things.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

CONTEMPLATION

 THOU, O my Grief, be wise and tranquil still, 
The eve is thine which even now drops down, 
To carry peace or care to human will, 
And in a misty veil enfolds the town.
While the vile mortals of the multitude, By pleasure, cruel tormentor, goaded on, Gather remorseful blossoms in light mood-- Grief, place thy hand in mine, let us be gone Far from them.
Lo, see how the vanished years, In robes outworn lean over heaven's rim; And from the water, smiling through her tears, Remorse arises, and the sun grows dim; And in the east, her long shroud trailing light, List, O my grief, the gentle steps of Night.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

EXOTIC PERFUME

 WHEN with closed eyes in autumn's eves of gold 
I breathe the burning odours of your breast, 
Before my eyes the hills of happy rest 
Bathed in the sun's monotonous fires, unfold.
Islands of Lethe where exotic boughs Bend with their burden of strange fruit bowed down, Where men are upright, maids have never grown Unkind, but bear a light upon their brows.
Led by that perfume to these lands of ease, I see a port where many ships have flown With sails outwearied of the wandering seas; While the faint odours from green tamarisks blown, Float to my soul and in my senses throng, And mingle vaguely with the sailor's song.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

Benediction

 When, by decree of the supreme power,
The Poet appears in this annoyed world,
His mother, blasphemous out of horror
At God's pity, cries out with fists curled:

"Ah! I'd rather You'd will me a snake's skin
Than to keep feeding this monstrous slur!
I curse that night's ephemera are sins
To make my womb atone for pleasure.
"Since You have chosen me from all the brides To bear the disgust of my dolorous groom And since I can't throw back into the fires Like an old love letter this gaunt buffoon "I'll replace Your hate that overwhelms me On the instrument of Your wicked gloom And torture so well this miserable tree Its pestiferous buds will never bloom!" She chokes down the eucharist of venom, Not comprehending eternal designs, She prepares a Gehenna of her own, And consecrates a pyre of maternal crimes.
Yet, watched by an invisible seraph, The disinherited child is drunk on the sun And in all he devours and in all he quaffs Receives ambrosia, nectar and honey.
He plays with the wind, chats with the vapors, Deliriously sings the stations of the cross; And the Spirit who follows him in his capers Cries at his joy like a bird in the forest.
Those whom he longs to love look with disdain And dread, strengthened by his tranquillity, They seek to make him complain of his pain So they may try out their ferocity.
In the bread and wine destined for his lips, They mix in cinders and spit with their wrath, And throw out all he touches as he grasps it, And accuse him of putting his feet in their path.
His wife cries out so that everyone hears: "Since he finds me good enough to adore I'll weave as the idols of ancient years A corona of gold as a cover.
"I'll get drunk on nard, incense and myrrh, Get down on bent knee with meats and wines To see if in a heart that admires, My smile denies deference to the divine.
"And, when I tire of these impious farces, I'll arrange for him my frail and hard nails Sharpened just like the claws of a harpy That out of his heart will carve a trail.
"Like a baby bird trembling in the nest I'll dig out his heart all red from my breast To slake the thirst of my favorite pet, And will throw it on the ground with contempt!" Toward the sky, where he sees a great host, The poet, serene, lifts his pious arms high And the vast lightning of his lucid ghost Blinds him to the furious people nearby: "Glory to God, who leaves us to suffer To cure us of all our impurities And like the best, most rarefied buffer Prepares the strong for a saint's ecstasies! "I know that You hold a place for the Poet In the ranks of the blessed and the saint's legions, That You invite him to an eternal fete Of thrones, of virtues, of dominations.
"I know only sorrow is unequaled, It cannot be encroached on from Hell or Earth And if I am to braid my mystic wreath, May I impose it on the universe.
"But the ancient jewels of lost Palmyra, The unknown metals, pearls from the ocean By Your hand mounted, they do not suffice, They cannot dazzle as clearly as this crown "For it will not be made except from halos Drawn of pure light in a holy portal Whose entire splendor, in the eyes of mortals Is only a mirror, obscure and mournful.
"
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

THE SEVEN OLD MEN

 O SWARMING city, city full of dreams, 
Where in a full day the spectre walks and speaks; 
Mighty colossus, in your narrow veins 
My story flows as flows the rising sap.
One morn, disputing with my tired soul, And like a hero stiffening all my nerves, I trod a suburb shaken by the jar Of rolling wheels, where the fog magnified The houses either side of that sad street, So they seemed like two wharves the ebbing flood Leaves desolate by the river-side.
A mist, Unclean and yellow, inundated space-- A scene that would have pleased an actor's soul.
Then suddenly an aged man, whose rags Were yellow as the rainy sky, whose looks Should have brought alms in floods upon his head, Without the misery gleaming in his eye, Appeared before me; and his pupils seemed To have been washed with gall; the bitter frost Sharpened his glance; and from his chin a beard Sword-stiff and ragged, Judas-like stuck forth.
He was not bent but broken: his backbone Made a so true right angle with his legs, That, as he walked, the tapping stick which gave The finish to the picture, made him seem Like some infirm and stumbling quadruped Or a three-legged Jew.
Through snow and mud He walked with troubled and uncertain gait, As though his sabots trod upon the dead, Indifferent and hostile to the world.
His double followed him: tatters and stick And back and eye and beard, all were the same; Out of the same Hell, indistinguishable, These centenarian twins, these spectres odd, Trod the same pace toward some end unknown.
To what fell complot was I then exposed? Humiliated by what evil chance? For as the minutes one by one went by Seven times I saw this sinister old man Repeat his image there before my eyes! Let him who smiles at my inquietude, Who never trembled at a fear like mine, Know that in their decrepitude's despite These seven old hideous monsters had the mien Of beings immortal.
Then, I thought, must I, Undying, contemplate the awful eighth; Inexorable, fatal, and ironic double; Disgusting Phoenix, father of himself And his own son? In terror then I turned My back upon the infernal band, and fled To my own place, and closed my door; distraught And like a drunkard who sees all things twice, With feverish troubled spirit, chilly and sick, Wounded by mystery and absurdity! In vain my reason tried to cross the bar, The whirling storm but drove her back again; And my soul tossed, and tossed, an outworn wreck, Mastless, upon a monstrous, shoreless sea.
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

Beauty

 Say not of beauty she is good, 
Or aught but beautiful, 
Or sleek to doves' wings of the wood 
Her wild wings of a gull.
Call her not wicked; that word's touch Consumes her like a curse; But love her not too much, too much, For that is even worse.
O, she is neither good nor bad, But innocent and wild! Enshrine her and she dies, who had The hard heart of a child.