Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Charles Pierre Baudelaire

French Poet, Art Critic

"As a remedy against all ills - poverty, sickness, and melancholy - only one thing is absolutely necessary: a liking for work."

"There can be no progress - real, moral progress - except in the individual and by the individual himself."

"A man who reforms himself has contributed his full. Every man who refuses to accept the condition of life sells his soul."

"Genius is childhood recaptured."

"How many years of fatigue and punishment it takes to learn the simple truth that work, that disagreeable thing, is the only way of not suffering in life, or at all events, of suffering less."

"I am unable to understand how a man of honor could take a newspaper in his hands without a shudder of disgust."

"Inspiration always comes when a man wills it, but it does not always depart when he wishes."

"It is by universal misunderstanding that all agree. For it, by ill luck, people understood each other, they would never agree."

"Sexuality is the lyricism of the masses."

"What is irritating about love is that it is a crime that requires an accomplice."

"A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors."

"A child sees everything in a sense of newness - he is always drunk. Genius is nothing but childhood re-attained at will."

"A Dandy does nothing."

"A frenzied passion for art is a canker that devours everything else."

"A friend of mine, the most innocuous dreamer who ever lived, once set a forest on fire to see, as he said, if it would catch as easily as people said. The first ten times the experiment was a failure; but on the eleventh it succeeded all too well."

"A glory in all the madness, there is a power in all extremes."

"A lasting prostitution instinct in the human heart - this is from his loneliness. He wants to have two. The clever man wants to be one, So lonely. Size is the one that stays and prostitute themselves in a special way. This is comfortable with loneliness, their need to forget self, a second, a third, a man in the flesh nobly appointed by loving enough."

"A man who drinks only water has a secret to hide from his fellow men."

"A man who from the beginning has long been soaked in the languid atmosphere of a woman, the scent of her hands, her bosom, her knees, her hair, her lithe and flowing clothes, sweet bath, suavely scented with ointments, has acquired a delicacy of skin, a refinement of tone, a kind of androgyny without which the toughest and most virile of geniuses remains, when it comes to artistic perfection, an incomplete being."

"A multitude of small delights constitute happiness."

"A precious liquid, a poison dearer than that of the Borgias ? because it is made from our blood, our health, our sleep, and two-thirds of our love ? we must be stingy with it."

"A room like a dream, a truly spiritual room, stagnant atmosphere is lightly whose tinted with pink and blue. It's a thing of the dusk, something bluish, pinkish; a sensuous dream during an eclipse."

"A silent mouth is sweet to hear."

"A soul is a thing so impalpable, so often useless and sometimes such a nuisance, that the loss of it disturbed me less than if I had lost my visiting card while taking a walk."

"A study of the great malady; horror of home."

"A sweetheart is a bottle of wine, a wife is a wine bottle."

"A tender heart unnerved by nothingness hoards every fragment of the radiant past."

"A woman is natural: that is to say, abominable."

"A work of art should be like a well-planned crime."

"Abolishers of the soul (materialists) are necessarily abolishers of hell, they, certainly, are interested. At all events, they are people who fear to live again--lazy people."

"Above my cradle loomed the bookcase where Latin ashes and the dust of Greece mingled with novels, history, and verse in one dark Babel. I was folio-high when I first heard the voices."

"Ah, not having given birth to a whole knot of vipers before feeding this ridicule damn night fleeting pleasures when my womb conceived my expiation."

"Alas, human vices, however horrible one might imagine them to be, contain the proof (were it only in their infinite expansion) of man's longing for the infinite; but it is a longing that often takes the wrong route. It is my belief that the reason behind all culpable excesses lies in this depravation of the sense of the infinite."

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

"All fashions are charming, or rather relatively charming, each one being a new striving, more or less well conceived, after beauty, an approximate statement of an ideal, the desire for which constantly teases the unsatisfied human mind."

"All forms of beauty, like all possible phenomena, contain an element of the eternal and an element of the transitory - of the absolute and of the particular. Absolute and eternal beauty does not exist, or rather it is only an abstraction creamed from the general surface of different beauties. The particular element in each manifestation comes from the emotions: and just as we have our own particular emotions, so we have our own beauty."

"All good and genuine draftsmen draw according to the picture inscribed in their minds, and not according to nature."

"All great poets become naturally, fatally, critics."

"All is order there, and elegance, pleasure, peace, and opulence."

"All the visible universe is nothing but a shop of images and signs."

"All which is beautiful and noble is the result of reason and calculation."

"Always be a poet, even in prose."

"Always be drunk. Nothing more: that's the whole thing. To not feel the horrible burden of Time fatigue you back and you lean toward the earth, you have to be drunk without respite. But, what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk."

"An artist is an artist only because of his exquisite sense of beauty, a sense which shows him intoxicating pleasures, but which at the same time implies and contains an equally exquisite sense of all deformities and all disproportion."

"An artist is only an artist on condition that he neglects no aspect of his dual nature. This dualism is the power of being oneself and someone else at one and the same time."

"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."

"An industry which can furnish results identical to nature must be the absolute in art."

"And sometimes asked have a wine of noble sort One day even let me off pain barrage, but wine makes the eye more clearly, finer eardrum; I sought oblivion in love then: But she's for me a bed of thorns and gossip They sip my cup insatiable whores!"

"An awful man enters and looks in the mirror. Why the mirror you look if you have not seen him more than displeasure? The awful man answered me: My Lord, according to the immortal principles of eighty nine all men are equal in rights; So I have the right to look at me; welcome or dislike, it is not for more than my conscience."

"An oasis of horror in a desert of boredom!"