Baudelaire & the Supernatural

Here’s something I wrote for my personal blog about the French Symbolist poet Baudelaire and his relationship to the supernatural. I thought its references to fairies, to the Breton goblins called lutins and to nymphs might be of interest to the readers of ‘British Fairies.’  Baudelaire explores many of the themes we have touched upon, the ill-defined relationship of Faery to the land of the dead, or the abduction and subjection of humans as slaves; all in his inimitable style.

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Baudelaire_en_1844_par_Emile_Deroy Baudelaire in 1844 by Emile Delroy

Charles-Pierre Baudelaire was born in Paris in 1821.  He came to be one of the leading Symbolist or decadent poets of the period.  He is known for exotic, gothic verse that is obsessed with boredom, sin, submission, death, sex and femmes fatales.  His themes sound like the classic teenaged/ emo preoccupations, familiar to us now, but in the mid-nineteenth century the poet’s references to Satanism and pagan orgies were shocking, rather than the mere conventions of death-metal.  There was also a notable supernatural element to Baudelaire’s poetry, which is what I wish specially to explore here.

Let’s deal with the black magick side of his work first.  In his ‘Preface’ to Les Fleurs du Mal, Baudelaire declared “On evil’s pillow Satan Trismegist/ Our ravished senses at his leisure lulls… The Devil holds our strings in puppetry!”  At the conclusion of Possessed, he cries…

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3 thoughts on “Baudelaire & the Supernatural

  1. Thanks for sharing this!!! It has whetted my apetite. The Flowers of Evil have been on my reading list for some time. I hope to read the collection soon.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. I have a (very old) copy of the Penguin collected poems, which is parallel English and French and pretty good. In preparing the article, I noticed how different the various translations can be. The Penguin editor goes for trying to create rhyming poetry in English- others just try to translate the words. A tricky choice!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I imagine it is. Translation is always a challenging business. More so when poetry is involved.

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