In memory of my friend Abidin Emre
Born twenty years after Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire passed away at the age of forty-six, roughly twenty years before Hugo. Hugo had a long and happy life, whereas for Baudelaire everything, including love and beauty, was filled with pain and disappointments. His life and death were sad. However, Hugo’s life was a masterpiece, his death a victory. Hugo, the victim of his genius, could not be the symbol of French poetry in the nineteenth year. However, Baudelaire, who was worn out by life, whose contemporaries ignored, mocked and judged, was accepted as one of the greatest poets of French literature; He deserved this with his only work, Flowers of Evil.
Music has always been at the forefront in his poetry. Baudelaire always wanted to give a perfect form to his blurred dreams and to express his thoughts clearly and distinctly. His poetry is felt by the melancholy of François Renée de Chauteaubriand, of Lord George Gordon Byron, the philosophical despair of Alferd de Vigny, the aesthetic nihilism of Gustave Flaubert and Leconte de Lisle.
For Baudelaire, the world is a bad place. The poet, who was painful but conscious as well, tried to establish a bridge between the imagination and the real and the surreal world and realized that the imagination was his last refuge.
No matter how unbearable the world may be, Baudelaire has never lost hope; because he thought there might be a salvation by the distinction of the simulated universality of the real and surreal world. Behind mediocrity is always an ideal to conquer, and behind every pain there is a possibility of happiness.
The task of the poet is to establish relations, unions in multitude, between these two sides of the world, even if they are fragile. For this reason, the poet takes refuge in imagination. “Imagination is not a fantasy. Although it is difficult to think of a non-sensitive dreamy person, imagination is not a sensibility.
Imagination is first and foremost a semi-divine faculty that, apart from philosophical methods, senses sincere feelings, mysteries, often of unity and similarity ”(Notes on the Stories of Edgar Allan Poe), der Baudelaire.
In fact, Baudelaire admires François de Malherbe, judging by the measure and vocabulary he uses. He is a poet who uses twelve-syllable lines (alaxendren) divided into two and the sonnet abandoned by the romantics.
What makes him different from the others is the images he uses extensively in his poetry and his unique language. These images, harmonies mostly manifest themselves with unions, similes and symbols.
These images, nourished by the imagination of the poet, enabled him to “create a new world” by reconciling oppositions, removing contradictions, removing beauty from ugliness and good from bad. Thus Baudelaire will be the harbinger of modern poetry.
As seen in his poem “Correspondances” (harmony in the multitude, unity, mutual harmonies), all emotions communicate with each other in harmony and it is like a polyphonic symphony of Richard Wagner: “Like long echoes speaking from afar / Colors, sounds, smells. they mix with each other ”(Translated by Sebahattin Eyüboğlu)
As for Baudelaire, he was the son of a father who was the bureau chief, papz, also a painter in the Senate. Before his father dies, he introduces him to the magical world of painting. A year after his father’s death, his mother marries General Jacques Opick, who will undertake very important duties, the grand envoy, senator of the Second Empire, and director of the military engineering college Polytechnic.
Baudelaire can never love his very disciplined step-father. But fortunately, both share the same grave today in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris. But according to some rumors, Baudelaire was lying in one corner of the same cemetery, at the foot of a wall, and few people knew that.
Young Baudelaire was a kind of “dandy” who was disgusted by society and the world. He will say, “It always seemed like a disgusting thing to me to be a useful man.”
Still considered one of the best high schools in Paris, Louis-le- was a brilliant student of the Grand High School, even receiving an award for his poetry in Latin. But for some reason he was expelled from school; Finally, Söke Söke will get her high school diploma ..
Her first lover was an ugly street woman named Sarah la Louchette. The step-father does not like this relationship and wants to get him on the first ship to Calcutta and get rid of him. The poet escaped from the ship that stopped by the island of Maurice and lived on this island for three months and then returned to Paris. This journey will develop his imagination and cause him to have a great interest in exoticism and the sea.
A bohemian life awaits him in Paris, which he thinks will alleviate the pain of cannabis and poppy. Meanwhile, an ordinary vaudeville actress, a demigod woman, black Venus meets Jeanne Duval “angel with jet black eyes, sculpted bronze forehead”. This woman will profoundly affect her whole life and part of her work.
Undoubtedly, Jeanne Duval will neither be the first nor the last. She falls in love with the green-eyed actress Marie Daubrun, who will abandon herself for the poet Thédore de Banville. It is also important not to forget Apollonie Sabatier, the mistress of a Belgian banker, who hosted the artists and writers of the period in his home.
According to Judith Guathier, the daughter of the poet Théophile Gautier, “Apollonie radiated light and happiness in her triumphant manner.” This lover will also play a very influential role in Baudelaire’s life and poems:
He will say, “I am an angel full of joy, light and happiness. I am the muse, I am the guardian Mary”.
Meanwhile, his family appoints attorney Narcisse Ancelle as guardian to Baudelaire. The poet, who is very angry with this, will try to kill his life with a knife. Fortunately, this attempt will not materialize, but it will present the reader with the purest and most memorable lines of French literature.
Baudelaire settles in Belgium in 1864. He suffers a stroke while considering returning to France. It enters almost vegetative life in Brussels. He is brought to Paris after suffering a heart attack. Paralyzed and lost his ability to speak, the poet died in 1867 at the age of forty-six.
When we say Baudelaire, it brings to mind the magical words that signify both the sadness and the end of romance, and the lines that express the opening to long closed, alarming and cursed areas:
Those nights lit by the coal flame! /
What about the evenings with pink mist, passing on the balcony
My head is on your chest, what would you like me then!
Most of what we said will not die!
Those evenings, lit by the coal flame!
How beautiful the suns are on hot summer evenings!
How deep is the universe, how strong the heart beats
As I bend over you, the fountain of my love,
I thought I smell my blood in my lungs.
How beautiful the suns are on hot summer evenings
(“Balkon”, trans. Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı)
The multiplicity of exclamation marks and the repetition of the word “evening” emphasize the dominance of sadness in a peaceful environment.
I dedicate these lines to you, my name
If it hits the edge of distant ages,
If one evening fills the minds with dreams
Like a ship caught on a hub, my name is,
Then the dream come true like a fairy tale, in the moment,
I want you to eat the reader like a stringed reed,
Hang on my lofty rhymes, I say,
In the sister links of a mysterious chain
(“I Commit These Strings To You”, trans. Erdogan Alkan)
Baudelaire remains for the future with a single book. In his poems, it is as if a spell ripples over the cursed women, vampires, sofas, fabrics, flowers, messy hair, ships in ports. Under the tropical sun, slaves, lethargic lazy youth dream.
Just like Hugo, there are some gilded lines, sudden collapses, rather prosaic, sometimes even corny lines in Baudelaire. But even in these artless lines, a glow is perceived; just like the poem “Closing Inside”.
Paul Valéry said the following about this poem that ends with the line “Listen to the night, walking sweet night” that starts with the line “I have to worry, calm down, rest a little”: The first and last lines of this poem have such magic that even if we remove the remaining part of the poem, it is something of the meaning of poetry will not lose. “
Flowers of Evil is published in June 1857. Social ethics of the Second Empire period prevail. In August, prosecutor Ernest Pinard, who found Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary against the code of morality, also sued the Flowers of Evil and decided to remove six poems from the book.
Today, no one remembers the name of Prosecutor Pinard. But Baudelaire, Flaubert, The Flowers of Evil, and Madame Bovary are revered by literature lovers. The name of this prosecutor can only be mentioned by these two authors.
Like Stendhal and Flaubert, Baudelaire is one of the artists who accompanied the dying romance. But there are still movements in your moribund body. Unlike Stendhal, a dry romantic, Baudelaire is a lavish and enchanting romantic.
He is also the romantic poet of lust and rotten carcasses. He is sick, he struggles to survive, he has nightmares, he will die. Aware of its end, he screams of rebellion: “O devil, pity this prolonged misery”, or;
Both my knife and the wound
Both my cheek and slap
Both my victim and executioner
At the crushing and oppressed wheel.
And it continues:
Hey death, old captain, it’s time to get iron
This country is boring me now, hey death, let’s get iron
Even though the sky and the sea are black like ink
Our familiar hearts are filled with light. “
(trans. Ahmet Necdet)
Baudelaire is not just a poet of lust, drunkenness, weariness, and death. He is also an extraordinarily intelligent art critic. He is a music lover who discovered Wagner and gave him praise.
It is he who translated into French the poems and stories of the American poet Poe, whom he found very close. He is also a painting critic who has a sincere admiration for many painters, from Eugène Delacroix to Gusteve Courbet, from Édouard Manet to Paul Cézanne. The poem “Lanterns” is the best example of this.
In addition to all this, Baudelaire is an outstanding prose poet. It is not uncommon in Baudelaire studies after the 1960s that prose poems were superior to the Flowers of Evil.
Indeed, prose poems are not scribbles of poems, but the product of the desire to create an opposing, flexible, obedient, non-syntactic but highly musical prose poem for the movements of the lyrical soul, the fluctuations of the mind, the sudden leaps of consciousness.
His Little Prose Poems, Paris Trouble, Artificial Heavens opened up a new field in French literature, inspiring future poets.
“He must always be drunk. This is everything: this is the only issue. In order not to hear the terrible weight of time crushing your shoulders, pulling you towards the ground, you must be incessantly drunk. […] But with what? By wine, poetry or virtue, however you like. But get drunk. “
“God what, pity us, pity the madmen with women and men! O creator, can there be such a thing as a monster for the only Being who knows why they exist, how they came into being, and how they may not have been formed? “
Or; “I like clouds … Here is … those passing clouds … Unique clouds!” (Paris Trouble, trans. Tahsin Yücel). At the bottom of this decline, he wants to regain his health both in his own eyes and in the eyes of others: “God, let me write a few more lines, but I will prove to myself that I am not the lowest of the people, that I am not inferior to the ones I despise” (ibid).
Between the desire for beauty and the temptation of boredom, between the ideal and the dead, between God and Satan, the poet appeals to euphoria and drunkenness, dream and poetry to fight death:
This call repeats a thousand guards,
The exit of a command from a thousand sound pipes
A lantern lit at the bastion of a castle
Hunters lost in dense forests scream.
It’s true God, out of our dignity
This is the best proof we can give
Hiccups always come from age to time
Arrives, on the shore of diner eternity!
(“Lanterns”, trans., Erdogan Alkan)
When the pain prevails, there is no other choice but to resist the pain:
Against indecency, thank God,
You gave us the pain, the best medicine
That pain is the most beautiful gem I believe
Who prepares difficulties for holy lust!
(trans., Erdogan Alkan)
Beyond hope, all of their prayers have been accepted. Baudelaire has suffered greatly all his life. These pains made him a poet loved and admired by those who came after him. Of course, the world was not the same after Baudelaire. The journey, the dream, the lust, the happiness has happened, something boring, magical, insensitive, stemming from the Flowers of Evil.