Artistic culture, a beacon for man – Baudelaire

and Work.

Baudelaire pays tribute in this poem to great artists, painters in painters in particular. This artistic culture is a light for men, they are as many“lighthouses,” to guide them.

The lighthouses

Rubens, river of forgetfulness, garden of laziness,

Pillow of fresh flesh where one cannot love,

But where life flows and stirs unceasingly,

Like the air in the sky and the sea in the sea;

Leonardo da Vinci, deep and dark mirror,

Where charming angels, with a soft mouse

All charged with mystery, appear in the shade

Of glaciers and pines that close their country,

Rembrandt, sad hospital all filled with murmurs,

And of a great crucifix decorated only,

Where prayer in tears exhales from the garbage,

And a winter ray suddenly crossed;

Michelangelo, vague place where one sees Hercules

Mingle with Christs, and rise up straight

Powerful ghosts that in the twilight

Tear off their shroud by stretching their fingers;

Anger of a boxer, impudence of a faun,

You who knew how to pick up the beauty of the cads,

Great heart swollen with pride, stupid and yellow men,

Puget, melancholic emperor of the convicts,

Watteau, this carnival where many illustrious hearts,

Like butterflies, wander around flamboyantly,

Fresh and light decorations lit by chandeliers

That pour madness into this whirling ball;

Goya, nightmare full of unknown things,

Of fetuses that are cooked in the middle of sabbaths,

Of old women with mirrors and naked children,

To tempt the demons fitting their stockings well;

Delacroix, a lake of blood haunted by evil angels,

Shaded by a wood of evergreen firs,

Where, under a sorrowful sky, strange fanfares

Pass by, like a muffled sigh of Weber;

These curses, these blasphemies, these complaints,

These ecstasies, these cries, these tears, these The Deum.

Are an echo repeated by a thousand labyrinths;

It is for the mortal hearts a divine opium!

It is a cry repeated by a thousand sentinels,

An order sent back by a thousand megaphones;

It is a beacon lit on a thousand citadels,

A call of hunters lost in the great woods!

For it is indeed, Lord, the best testimony

That we can give of our dignity

Than this ardent sob that rolls from age to age

And comes to die at the edge of your eternity!

Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil

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