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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 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 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 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

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!
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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.
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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

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.
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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

Spleen (IV)

 Quand le ciel bas et lourd pèse comme un couvercle
Sur l'esprit gémissant en proie aux longs ennuis,
Et que de l'horizon embrassant tout le cercle
Il nous verse un jour noir plus triste que les nuits; 
Quand la terre est changée en un cachot humide,
Où l'espérance, comme un chauve-souris,
S'en va battant le mur de son aile timide
Et se cognant la tête à des plafonds pourris; 
Quand la pluie étalant ses immenses traînées
D'une vaste prison imite les barreaux,
Et qu'un peuple muet d'infâmes araignées
Vient tendre ses filets au fond de nos cerveaux, 
Des cloches tout à coup sautent avec furie
Et lance vers le ciel un affreux hurlement,
Ainsi que des esprits errants et sans patrie
Qui se mettent à geindre opiniâtrement 
-- Et de longs corbillards, sans tambours ni musique,
Défilent lentement dans mon âme; l'Espoir,
Vaincu, pleure, et l'angoisse atroce, despotique,
Sur mon crâne incliné plante son drapeau noir.
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.
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THE EYES OF BEAUTY

 YOU are a sky of autumn, pale and rose; 
But all the sea of sadness in my blood 
Surges, and ebbing, leaves my lips morose, 
Salt with the memory of the bitter flood.
In vain your hand glides my faint bosom o'er, That which you seek, beloved, is desecrate By woman's tooth and talon; ah, no more Seek in me for a heart which those dogs ate.
It is a ruin where the jackals rest, And rend and tear and glut themselves and slay-- A perfume swims about your naked breast! Beauty, hard scourge of spirits, have your way! With flame-like eyes that at bright feasts have flared Burn up these tatters that the beasts have spared!
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TO A MADONNA

 MADONNA, mistress, I would build for thee 
An altar deep in the sad soul of me; 
And in the darkest corner of my heart, 
From mortal hopes and mocking eyes apart, 
Carve of enamelled blue and gold a shrine 
For thee to stand erect in, Image divine! 
And with a mighty Crown thou shalt be crowned 
Wrought of the gold of my smooth Verse, set round 
With starry crystal rhymes; and I will make, 
O mortal maid, a Mantle for thy sake, 
And weave it of my jealousy, a gown 
Heavy, barbaric, stiff, and weighted down 
With my distrust, and broider round the hem 
Not pearls, but all my tears in place of them.
And then thy wavering, trembling robe shall be All the desires that rise and fall in me From mountain-peaks to valleys of repose, Kissing thy lovely body's white and rose.
For thy humiliated feet divine, Of my Respect I'll make thee Slippers fine Which, prisoning them within a gentle fold, Shall keep their imprint like a faithful mould.
And if my art, unwearying and discreet, Can make no Moon of Silver for thy feet To have for Footstool, then thy heel shall rest Upon the snake that gnaws within my breast, Victorious Queen of whom our hope is born! And thou shalt trample down and make a scorn Of the vile reptile swollen up with hate.
And thou shalt see my thoughts, all consecrate, Like candles set before thy flower-strewn shrine, O Queen of Virgins, and the taper-shine Shall glimmer star-like in the vault of blue, With eyes of flame for ever watching you.
While all the love and worship in my sense Will be sweet smoke of myrrh and frankincense.
Ceaselessly up to thee, white peak of snow, My stormy spirit will in vapours go! And last, to make thy drama all complete, That love and cruelty may mix and meet, I, thy remorseful torturer, will take All the Seven Deadly Sins, and from them make In darkest joy, Seven Knives, cruel-edged and keen, And like a juggler choosing, O my Queen, That spot profound whence love and mercy start, I'll plunge them all within thy panting heart!