- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Charles Baudelaire on Language, Poetry, Beauty, and More.

 

Happy birthday, Charles Baudelaire! Here are some quotes from his writing:

 

“Always be a poet, even in prose.”

 

“To handle a language skillfully is to practice a kind of evocative sorcery.”

 

“The beautiful is always bizarre.”

 

“All beauties, like all possible phenomena, have something of the eternal and something of the ephemeral — of the absolute and the particular.

 

“Remembering is only a new form of suffering.”

 

“If the word doesn’t exist, invent it; but first be sure it doesn’t exist.”

 

“Dancing is poetry with arms and legs.”

 

“What is intoxicating about bad taste is the aristocratic pleasure of offensiveness.”

 

“I consider it useless and tedious to represent what exists, because nothing that exists satisfies me. Nature is ugly, and I prefer the monsters of my fancy to what is positively trivial.”

 

“Music fathoms the sky.”

 

“You gave me your mud and I have turned it to gold.”

 

“Everything is an abyss—action, desire, dreams,
Words!”

 

“Which one of us has not dreamed, on ambitious days, of the miracle of a poetic prose: musical, without rhythm or rhyme; adaptable enough and discordant enough to conform to the lyrical movements of the soul, the waves of revery, the jolts of consciousness?”

 

“Oh pain! Oh pain! Time eats life.”

 

“I am a cemetery loathed by the moon.”

 

“Which one of us has not dreamed, on ambitious days, of the miracle of a poetic prose: musical, without rhythm or rhyme; adaptable enough and discordant enough to conform to the lyrical movements of the soul, the waves of reverie, the jolts of consciousness?”

 

“The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist cries out in terror before being defeated.”

 

“What matters an eternity of damnation to someone who has found in one second the infinity of joy?”

 

“What good is it to accomplish projects, when the project itself is enjoyment enough?”

 

“This life is a hospital where each patient is possessed by the desire to change his bed.”

 

“Modernity is the transitory, fugitive, contingent, is but one half of art, of which the other half is the eternal and immutable.”

 

“The observer is a prince who enjoys his incognito everywhere.”

 

“Evil happens without effort, naturally, inevitably; good is always the product of skill.”

 

“The Revolution had been made by voluptuaries.”

 

“An artist is only an artist thanks to his exquisite sense of beauty—a sense which provides him with intoxicating delights, but at the same time implying and including a sense, equally exquisite, of all deformity and disproportion.”

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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